Hugh Laurie and Imelda Staunton awarded Honorary Membership

-Posted on 06.07.2018

On Wednesday 4 and Thursday 5 July 2018, we held our graduation ceremonies in St Marylebone Parish Church and the Academy’s new Susie Sainsbury Theatre.

During the first ceremony, actor and musician Hugh Laurie was awarded an Honorary Membership of the Royal Academy of Music by HRH The Duchess of Gloucester GCVO. The award-winning, multitalented Hugh Laurie, CBE has had an exceptional career as an actor, producer, writer, musician and composer. Hugh is a predominantly self-taught pianist and has gone on to have an incredibly successful music career. In 2011, he released a New Orleans Blues album Let Them Talk which was distributed worldwide by Warner Bros Records. After the huge success of his debut album, Hugh released his second album Didn’t It Rain in May 2013 with Warner Music Entertainment.

The second ceremony, for graduating Musical Theatre students, saw actress Imelda Staunton receive Honorary Membership, also presented by HRH The Duchess of Gloucester GCVO. Imelda Staunton, CBE was born in London in 1956 where she trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, graduating in 1976. She began her London theatre career at the National Theatre in The Beggar’s Opera (1982) where she was nominated a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical and Most Promising Newcomer of the Year in theatre. Staunton has since performed in a variety of plays and musicals in London, and has been nominated for nine Olivier Awards. Staunton drew critical acclaim for her performance in the title role in the 2004 film Vera Drake, for which she won the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

After being awarded their Honorary Membership of the Academy, both Staunton and Laurie gave a short speech on behalf of the honorands.

Other honorands at the ceremonies included conductor and the Academy’s Head of Conducting Sian Edwards, pianist Paul Lewis, cellist Hannah Roberts and mezzo-soprano Catherine Wyn-Rogers. Actor Stephen Ashfield, guitarist Stephen Goss, pianist Sholto Kynoch, violinists Sophie Langdon and Jack Liebeck, Principal of the RNCM Professor Linda Merrick and contralto Hilary Summers were awarded Fellowships. 

As a constituent college of the University of London, the Academy has the right to propose illustrious musicians to be awarded the degree of Doctor of Music ‘honoris causa’. This year, composer and conductor Oliver Knussen was the recipient.

At the graduation ceremony, over 200 students graduated with nine types of award. The ceremony took place soon after the Academy was granted Gold status in the new Teaching Excellence Framework.

We would like to congratulate all our graduates on their incredible work during their time at the Academy and wish them all the success in the future.

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