Zarin Mehta receives Honorary Doctorate at Schulich’s Spring Convocation


Published: 13Jun2018
Zarin Mehta, photo by Owen Egan

Two weeks ago, the Schulich School of Music had the honour in presenting Zarin Mehta with the degree of Doctor of Music, honoris causa. 

Zarin Mehta has led some of the greatest musical institutions in North America. His passion for the music business began in Montreal where he was managing director of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal from 1981 to 1990. He then went to Chicago to become executive director and later president and CEO of the prestigious Ravinia Festival. In 2000 he was appointed Executive Director, and later President of the legendary New York Philharmonic. After leaving New York in 2012, Mr. Mehta became Co-Executive Director of the Green Music Center, at Sonoma State University in California.

Zarin Mehta possesses an extraordinary set of financial and managerial skills honed by his early experience in London and Montreal as a chartered accountant. Throughout his career, his acute business acumen has worked in parallel with his deep love of music fostered by his extraordinary family: his father was a violinist and founder of the Bombay Symphony, his brother is the esteemed conductor Zubin Mehta, and his wife is soprano and vocal pedagogue Carmen Lasky Mehta.

Here at McGill, we are particularly grateful to Zarin Mehta for his time at the Orchestre symphonique de Montreal. Under his dynamic leadership in the 1980’s, the orchestra gained international renown and attracted a generation of talented musicians, some of whom still teach at the University. The McGill-OSM connection continues to be a source of strength for both institutions and is a pillar of our city’s extraordinary cultural life. The university also recognizes the significant contribution that his wife Carme Lasky Mehta made to a generation of McGill students while she taught voice here.

Zarin Mehta’s passion for music also extends to young musicians. He was pivotal in the development of a Master’s Program in Arts Administration at Roosevelt University in Chicago. He also established the Zarin Mehta Fellows, allowing young musicians from the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California, to perform with the New York Philharmonic. 

Zarin Mehta’s dedication to the city that launched his career continues to this day. Last fall he was appointed Senior Advisor to the search committee for the future Music Director of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal.  He was also Chair of the Jury of the Montreal International Musical Competition, which wrapped up its 2018 season just last week.

Mr. Mehta has been awarded several academic distinctions, including an honorary doctorate from l’Université de Montréal and the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Institution of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. He is a member of the Order of Canada.

During his acceptance of the degree, Mehta remarked, “I want to express my gratitude to you not only for your past efforts but for the many future decades in which you will serve your art. You who are graduating today wiII be more than mere custodians of music. Not only will you be responsible for keeping alive all these wonderful masterpieces and performance traditions - you'll be creating new ones as well. You are the future of music.” 

Schulich’s Spring Convocation featured 190 students graduating from a variety of programs. Of the class were 76 Bachelors of Music, 1 Licentiate of Music, 1 Artist Diploma, 6 Graduate Artist Diplomas, 18 Graduate Diplomas in Performance, 11 Masters of Arts, 12 Masters of Music (Research), 59 Masters of Music (Performance), 2 Doctorates of Music, 3 PhDs in Music and 1 Honorary Doctorate. Congratulations to the Class of 2018!