Legendary composer and Visiting Professor of Composition James Newton Howard received an Honorary Degree (Hon DMus). James is one of the most versatile composers in the industry, who has over 100 film and TV credits. With a career spanning over 30 years, he is a nine-time Oscar nominee, and Emmy and Grammy winner. His film scores include Pretty Woman, The Fugitive, Space Jam, Peter Pan, King Kong and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and The Dark Knight which he composed with Hans Zimmer.

As part of his speech during the ceremony, James Newton Howard said:

'To the graduating students, you are about to emerge from the protective embrace of this extraordinary Academy, into a culture that frequently encourages us to take shortcuts. Don’t do it! Don’t settle for average. As the saying goes, you will become what you practise most. Practise excellence, practise creativity; it is a muscle, and it needs to be exercised and strengthened. A life in music will require a huge amount of work and sacrifice, but it is one of the greatest joys of my life.'

Leading names from a range of musical disciplines were awarded Honorary Membership of the Royal Academy of Music, including recording artist and Olivier award-winning musical theatre actress Beverley Knight, celebrated jazz musician Jamie Cullum, and conductor and Music Director Designate of The Royal Opera Jakub Hrůša. Violinist Hilary Hahn, pianist Maria João Pires and the Academy’s Head of Vocal Studies Kate Paterson also became Honorary Members.

Musicians who were recognised as Fellows of the Royal Academy of Music, an honour reserved for Academy alumni, included pioneering singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier, and prominent opera singers David Butt Philip and Freddie De Tommaso. Musician, music educator and academic Professor Susan Hallam, collaborative pianist Simon Lepper and conductor Jonathon Heyward, who was recently appointed Music Director of Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, complete the list of alumni who were celebrated this year.

Her Grace The Duchess of Wellington, Chairman of the Academy’s Bicentenary Development Board, and Chief Executive of Britten Pears Arts Roger Wright became Honorary Fellows of the Royal Academy of Music.

The Academy’s Principal, Jonathan Freeman-Attwood CBE, said: 'As we look ahead to our third century, I’m delighted to celebrate this outstanding list of honorands who are shaping the future of music. They represent a breadth of musical genres and areas of the profession in which we are very proud to see Academy students excel across the globe.'

The Academy marked the achievements of these leading artists alongside the 332 graduating students. Academy musicians permeate all areas of the music profession, and lead the way in concert halls, opera houses and theatres across the globe. The Academy is proud of its network of alumni and the significant contribution they make to the music profession and beyond.

Images © Frances Marshall