Berklee Indian Ensemble

300 Million Hits, a Star-Studded Debut Album, and a Grammy Nomination

Berklee Indian Ensemble performs in the A.R. Rahman tribute at Symphony Hall

Founded in 2011 by Annette Philip, the first Indian musician appointed as a faculty member at Berklee College of Music, the Berklee Indian Ensemble is a world renowned collective, known for its global Indian sound that honors traditions while boldly experimenting with a cross-pollination of genres, cultures, and multidisciplinary art forms. A viral sensation with nearly 300 million views, the ensemble was in such high demand globally that it organically transitioned into a professional band in 2021, marking the ensemble’s 10-year anniversary. 

“The questions ‘what if’ and ‘why not’ have been at the core of every chapter,” Philip shares. The ensemble released its first collection of transnational, genre-bending music on its debut album, Shuruaat (Hindi for "beginning").

Featuring 98 musicians from 39 countries, including Indian music royalty such as tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain, Bollywood superstar Shreya Ghoshal, virtuosic singers Shankar Mahadevan, Vijay Prakash, and Shadow and Light, Shuruaat exploded onto the scene in July 2022. The album was named the no. 3 best album drop of July 2022 by GQ India.

Berklee Indian Ensemble album cover art

"Shuruaat" by Berklee Indian Ensemble

Album Artwork by Nikhil Kaul

“Our audience has been begging for our music to be available on streaming platforms for a decade. It is fitting that Shuruaat features our most popular live performances as well as four originals, showcasing our journey so far, and the one we’re about to begin,” Philip explains.

In November 2022, Shuruaat was nominated for a Grammy for Best Global Music Album, thus making BIE the first Berklee official ensemble to earn a nomination.

The ensemble was also the driving force behind the idea of Berklee India Exchange (BIX), an institute at Berklee that serves as a platform, conduit, and incubator for Indian art and culture through concerts, high-profile artist residencies, original content, tours, workshops, and scholarships.

BIX houses the professional touring band Berklee Indian Ensemble, the renamed class South Asian Ensemble, as well as the newly minted South Asian Student Association for South Asian students and their allies on campus.

Funded solely by philanthropy, BIX is home to artists from all over the world, and an influencer and thought leader in the ever-evolving global music industry.

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Watch the Berklee Indian Ensemble's "Shuruaat" music video playlist