Sean McMahon Named Chair of Berklee's Film Scoring Department

McMahon, a successful film composer and orchestrator who currently serves as assistant chair of the department, succeeds Alison Plante as chair on September 1.

June 7, 2019

Sean McMahon

Berklee has named film composer and orchestrator Sean McMahon as chair of the Film Scoring Department. McMahon B.M. ‘00 is a Berklee alumnus who has scored the films The Grudge III, 400 Days, and The Great White Storm, and has composed additional music for Dreamworks and Sony/Columbia pictures. McMahon has served as assistant chair of the department since 2017. He will succeed Alison Plante as chair on September 1, 2019. In his new role, McMahon looks to build on the 40-year legacy of film scoring at Berklee.

"I know the program prepares students well for the industry because it prepared me well,” said McMahon. “I would not have had the career I had if I attended any other undergraduate program. It's a great honor and tremendously humbling to be able to give back to students and pay it forward in this new leadership role.”

“It's an exciting time to be in film music. Composer assistantships, video games, VR, and the explosion of original content from platforms such as YouTube, Netflix, and Prime Video, for example, provide more career possibilities for composers than ever before,” he added. “We need to continue to prepare our students for these new opportunities, and will do so by placing the curriculum at the intersection of creativity, technology, and entrepreneurship."

“I’m pleased to announce Sean’s appointment as chair of the Film Scoring Department,” said Matthew Nicholl, dean of the Professional Writing and Music Technology Division. “He brings a wealth of experience to the position as an educator, administrator, orchestrator, and composer.”

After graduating from Berklee with a degree in film scoring, McMahon completed the graduate certificate in scoring for motion pictures and television at the University of Southern California. While in California, he worked for five years as composer’s assistant and project manager for A-list composer Christopher Young, and orchestrated more than 30 films, including The Monkey King, Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider, and Spider-Man 3. In addition to composing scores for several films, he has also created music for a number of video games.

McMahon is a native of Toronto, Canada, who lives in Brookline, Massachusetts. He joined the faculty of McNally Smith College of Music in 2009 and was appointed head of the Composition and Songwriting Department in 2011, a position he held until he joined Berklee in 2017.

Founded in 1979, Berklee’s Film Scoring Department offers the study of scoring for film, TV, video games, and other visual media. Prominent Berklee alumni in the industry include Alf Clausen '66 (The Simpsons), Ramin Djawadi B.M. '98 (Game of Thrones), Howard Shore '68 (Lord of the Rings), Alan Silvestri '70 (Back to the Future, Marvel’s The Avengers), Pinar Toprak B.M. '00 (Captain Marvel)—the first female composer to score a major superhero movie—and Lucas Vidal B.M. '07 (Fast & Furious 6). Students in the program engage in hands-on study of film music composition, editing, sequencing, and more in facilities that rival those used by commercial enterprises like Lucasfilm and major Hollywood studios.

Watch a video overview of the film scoring major: 


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