A.R. Rahman gives commencement speech, performs at MU Graduation
World-famous musician/composer recieves honorary doctorate
Oxford – A beautiful day, a packed venue, and the ritual of graduation were the backdrops of a major celebration of the arts at Miami University’s Spring 2012 Commencement at Yager Stadium on Saturday, May 5.
More than 3,500 red-gowned men and women saw their collegiate careers at Miami University come to end with the serenading by an Academy Award-winning singer and composer supported by MU instrumentalists and vocal ensembles during its 173rd commencement ceremony, awarding 3,529 degrees, including 3,102 bachelor’s degrees in a variety of fields and disciplines.
A. R. Rahman, the most well-known musician in all of India and whose most famous works include the soundtrack to the movie “Slumdog Millionaire,” gave the keynote address and was awarded an honorary degree by the university. His presence was a culminating highlight of the University’s “Year of the Arts” that it celebrated during the 2011-2012 academic year.
"It was an extremely special weekend," writes Fine Arts dean Dr. James Lentini. "With A.R. Rahman here on Saturday as the keynote speaker and performer, the event reached a full house in Yager Stadium and thousands watching online. Rahman's Facebook page (he has 8.4 million followers) posted his Commencement speech at Miami and a photo of him with his honorary doctorate. The posts have received 43,000 likes and over 4000 comments."
Rahman has worked with Miami for more than a decade and was a co-founder of the Global Rhythms World Music Ensemble (GRWME) on the Miami University campus. After his address he performed several of his own compositions and was then joined by drummer and co-founder of GRWME Srinivas Krishnan, guitarist/dean of the School of Fine Arts James Lentini, and GRWME vocalists conducted by Jeremy Jones, in performances of Dilse and Jaiho, two of his Rahman’s more famous pieces.
In his address, Rahman said to “make sure you are always learning through your travels and keeping an open mind. Many hidden treasures of a place are never revealed until we experience them for ourselves. Never rush into judgment about a person, place or idea.” He encouraged the students to be bold and adventurous - and to look for ways to help mankind. “Music doesn’t belong to one culture or time period” Rahman said.
Also helping with the musical aspects of the day’s ceremony were the Miami University Wind Ensemble under the direction of Gary Speck and vocalist Armando Linares, who led singing of the National Anthem and the Miami University Alma Mater.