Composer John Adams awarded Honorary Doctorate

-Posted on 27.10.2015

The Royal Academy of Music was delighted to welcome back leading American composer and conductor John Adams on Sunday 25th and Monday 26th October 2015, for two days of events culminating in presentation of Honorary Doctorate of the University of London.  The Royal Academy of Music previously collaborated with John Adams in spectacular concerts at New York’s Lincoln Center and at the BBC Proms in 2012, in which performers from the Academy and The Juilliard School were conducted by the composer.

On Sunday, John Adams worked with Academy composers and performers in a series of private workshops. 

On Monday, capacity audiences were treated to a day of discussions and performances dedicated to one of today’s greatest and best-known composers.

The day began with an in-depth interview presented by the writer Paul Morley, whose insightful analyses of music and its place within general contemporary culture are well-known to Academy composition students from his own visits here.

The lunchtime concert explored repertoire for small ensembles and solo instruments by John Adams and Igor Stravinsky, whose durable models continue to have such a significant effect on so many of today’s composers.

The day was brought to a close with a student performance of Grand Pianola Music, one of Adams’s best-known works, on which Academy students had had the privilege of working with the composer himself. Although premiered nearly thirty-five years ago, this work certainly retains the ability to startle today’s audiences.

John Adams was presented with Honorary Doctorate of the University of London, honoris causa – inaugurating John into the Academy’s most exclusive ‘club’. The complete list of illustrious previous recipients is: the late Sir Colin Davis (2002), Sir Elton John (2002), the late Sir Charles Mackerras (2005), Sir Peter Maxwell Davies (2006), Daniel Barenboim (2010), Pierre Boulez (2010), Stephen Sondheim (2010), Sir Simon Rattle (2011), Sir George Martin (2011), Sir Mark Elder (2012), Gennady Rozhdestvensky (2013), Sir Thomas Allen (2014), Sir Ralph Kohn (2014) and Quincy Jones (2015). 

The citation was written read by James Jolly, editor in chief of Gramophone Magazine, who said “He has given his time selflessly to young musicians, as teacher, mentor and collaborator, as students at the Academy well know. Today those who have benefited from his experience and wisdom, return that generosity in the form of an honorary degree. It is truly well deserved.”

John Adams tweeted: Thrilled to be honored by @RoyaAcadMusic with such pizzazz performances by hugely talented players

James Jolly’s full citation can be read here.

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