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Academy Award-winner A.R. Rahman to speak at Miami University's spring commencement


A.R. Rahman
Composer, musician and two-time Academy Award-winner A.R. Rahman will be the commencement speaker at Miami University's spring ceremony, 1:30 p.m. Saturday, May 5, at Yager Stadium and will receive an honorary doctorate from Miami University.

“We are honored to have A.R. Rahman as our commencement speaker. His accomplishments as a composer are inspirations to us all, and his humanitarian efforts shine as examples of what our students can do,” said President David Hodge.

Rahman’s musical compositions in the movie “Slumdog Millionaire” earned him two Oscars, two Grammy awards, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA award and a Broadcast Film Critics Association Award. Recently he collaborated with Mick Jagger to perform on the acclaimed album “SuperHeavy.”

Described by Time magazine as the “Mozart of Madras” and as possibly the most prolific recording artist in the world, Rahman was named in 2009 as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the world by Time. According to a BBC estimate, Rahman has sold more than 150 million copies of his work comprising music from more than 100 film soundtracks and albums across several languages.

He was invited by Andrew Lloyd Webber to score music for his musical “Bombay Dreams,” which ran for two years at London’s West End and also scored music for the stage production of “Lord of the Rings.” Rahman’s music is featured in the films “Inside Man,” “127 Hours” and the soon-to-be-released “Welcome to People.”

Spring commencement will not be the first time Rahman visits Miami. He has connected with Miami University for more than a decade through his association with Global Rhythms performances that has enabled thousands of Miami students to connect with India through his music.

“A.R. Rahman and I met by chance on a flight from London to India and that meeting has translated into a series of gains for Miami and her community, with him leaving a legacy of sharing and appreciation with other cultures,” said Srinivas Krishnan, (Miami MEn. ’88) founder and director of Global Rhythms World Music Ensemble at Miami University. Rahman made a surprise visit to campus in September 2011 to listen to Miami’s Symphony Orchestra, Collegiate Chorale, Choraliers and other campus musical groups as they prepared for Global Rhythms performances.

Rahman established the A.R. Rahman Foundation to help poor and underprivileged children. He was named as an ambassador to “Save the Children India” and named a global ambassador of the World Health Organization’s Stop TB Partnership. Rahman also was among the stars singing in the re-recording of “We Are the World” to raise money for the Haiti earthquake relief in 2010. “Maa Tujhe Salaam,” a song composed by Rahman for the “Vande Mataram” album, holds the Guinness World Record as the song performed in the highest number of languages worldwide.

He is quoted as saying, “If a music artist wants to blossom into a fully fledged person, it’s not enough if he only knows classical music or if he’s well-versed only in ragas and techniques. He should be interested in life and philosophy. In his personal life there should be, at least in some corner of his heart, a tinge of lingering sorrow.”

Rahman has set up the KM Music Conservatory in Chennai, where he has allowed for several students in India to have an opportunity to have a better understanding, competency and appreciation of musical cultures from around the world, in addition to Indian classical music.

Miami is celebrating the Year of the Arts, highlighting its long history, present dynamism and exciting future of the arts.

“A.R. Rahman embodies the spirit that we have been celebrating. He illuminates the transformative power of the arts, and his work reaches across cultures,” Hodge added.

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Photos Photos  
Rahman signs senior Charlie Poe's music score in Hall Auditorium during a rehearsal with Collegiate Chorale
photo: Andrew Bray, Miami senior

A.R. Rahman's connections with Miami

Rahman’s connections with Miami stem from his friendship and collaborations with Srinivas Krishnan, Miami alumnus (MEn,’88) master percussionist, founder and director of Miami’s Global Rhythms World Music Ensemble and artist-in-residence at Miami’s Center for American and World Cultures.

The Global Rhythms ensemble joined Rahman on his 2003 Unity of Light tour of the United States, performing in New York, Michigan, and in Dayton. Jeremy Long, professor of saxophone and director of Miami’s jazz ensemble, has performed with Rahman several times, most recently in Dec. 2011.

Last summer, Global Rhythms members who participated in Krishnan’s Team Moxie had the opportunity to visit and perform in Chennai, India, at Rahman's KM Conservatory.
And, most recently, Rahman was on campus in September for a surprise visit to listen to Miami’s symphony orchestra, jazz ensemble, Choraliers and Collegiate Chorale rehearse for the Global Rhythms concert. Among other Rahman compositions performed by the groups, the Choraliers premiered Rahman’s single “Hello Mister.”


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