The International College of Music (ICOM) was founded in November 1995 by Tan Sri Dato’ Seri A. P. Arumugam, a prominent Malaysian industrialist. Tan Sri’s love for music and his vision to raise the level of musicianship in Malaysia mooted the establishment of this specialist music institution, to be a one stop center for education, practice and promotion of music making at a professional level.
The institutional partnership with the world-renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts (USA) at the onset of the development stages of ICOM in 1994 was a significant milestone to raise awareness, recognition and credibility for the then brand new ‘one of a kind’ music college in Malaysia. Berklee was very supportive of the partnership and helped guide and nurture all efforts in curriculum development, faculty development and operations management through the assistance of senior management staff such as Robert Myers, Tom Riley, Curtis Warner and the late Ron Bentley.
Starting off with our very first enrollment of 16 students in January 1996, ICOM has since gone on to nurture the successful music careers of over 1200 graduates to date. ICOM alumni include popular artists such as Vince Chong, Noryn Aziz, Najwa Mahiaddin, Jedidiah Wong of Pop Shuvit and Rithan of Dejavoodoo Spells among hoards of others who work as music entrepreneurs, audio engineers and music directors in music production studios, broadcast stations and of live concerts and musicals across Asia.
The College was launched a year later by YAB Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on 20th October 1997 and the ceremony witnessed the signing of two key institutional partnerships – one with the Berklee College of Music and the other with the University of Westminster (UK). The induction of ICOM into the Berklee International Network sealed the deal for a long-term institutional relationship with Berklee and with fourteen other music schools within the network across the world, all specializing in contemporary music education. The curriculum articulation agreement between ICOM and Berklee provided a tremendous benefit to students, enabling them to complete the first two years of the Berklee core courses at ICOM and transferring them to Berklee through the course for course articulation.
The partnership with the University of Westminster introduced one of the first “3+0” music undergraduate degrees in Malaysia. The Bachelor of Music in Professional Music with specialisms in Music Arranging and Music Production & Technology was a much sought after answer to local demands for an affordable music degree right here at home. The program was developed and taught by ICOM faculty and validated by the University, paving the way for students to earn a UK degree in Malaysia without going overseas. Through the years, due to policy changes introduced both at the ministry and at the University, the “3+0” institutional partnership was later changed to be with the University of Wolverhampton in 2008. This partnership was initiated by Dato’ Ravimaran Savari of ICOM and Dr. John Pymm of the University. One of the core strengths of ICOM is curriculum development and this is one of the key attractant that continues to bring students from all across Asia to study at ICOM. From our inception in 1996 through to 1998, the ICOM 3-year Diploma with four specialist majors in performance, arranging, music synthesis and music production & engineering opened the minds of students and parents alike on the width and range of career options available for the contemporary musician.
The course offerings introduced opportunities for academics and music industry professionals to connect and network closely in order to pave the path for young musicians to get a job in the music industry. Malaysian music industry giants such as Freddie Fernandez, Michael Veerapen, Mac Chew, Jenny Chin, Helen Yap, Ahmad Izham Omar, Boon Tan, the late Farid Ali, Louis Pragasam and Aubrey Suwito played key roles as clinicians, faculty members, external examiners and consultants to open the doors of the regional music industry to ICOM graduates. Today, the name ICOM opens many doors in the regional music industry, thanks in part to the strong industry network continuously developed through our faculty, students and alumni.