Maestro James Conlon to receive honorary degree at Commencement

James Conlon

James Conlon, music director of the Los Angeles Opera since 2006, will be one of seven distinguished individuals receiving honorary degrees as part of the Brandeis Commencement exercises on May 17. He will be given the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.

In a career spanning more than three decades, Conlon served as a conductor with some of the world’s most renowned opera houses and symphony orchestras. He has appeared with virtually every major North American and European opera company and orchestra, including the Royal Opera at Covent Garden and Teatro alla Scala. At the Los Angeles Opera, he has led seven Wagner works as part of an effort to create a Wagnerian tradition. He has conducted more than 250 performances at the Metropolitan Opera, and he was principal conductor of the Paris National Opera from 1995 to 2004, serving the longest tenure of any conductor with that company since 1939. Under his leadership, the opera witnessed an increase in artistic standards and overall attendance and productivity.

An advocate for the work of lesser-known composers affected by the Holocaust, Conlon has used his passion for music to bring the music of those composers to the Los Angeles stage through his project “Recovered Voices.” He received Italy’s Premio Galileo 2000 Award for his contribution to art, music, and peace, and in 2005 he became one of the five first recipients of the annual Opera News Awards. In 2008, he received the Medal of the American Liszt Society for his performances of the composer’s works. Currently in the midst of a two-year artist residency at the Juilliard School in New York, he is working to foster growth in the young artists of the school’s three divisions of dance, music, and drama.

The other honorary degree recipients include famed opera singer Marilyn Horne, Indian environmentalist Rajendra K. Pachauri, choreographer Bill T. Jones, Holocaust survivor and scholar Israel Gutman, Israeli entrepreneur and industrialist Stef Wertheimer and Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker.

For more information on the honorary degree recipients, or Commencement 2009, visit the Commencement Web site.

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