The New England Conservatory (NEC) has announced that three renowned musicians will be receiving honorary doctorates at its May 19 Commencement ceremony in 2024. The distinguished honorees include singer-songwriter Paul Simon, Grammy-winning soprano Dawn Upshaw, and conductor Robert Spano. Paul Simon will also be the featured speaker at the ceremony.

Robert Spano, currently serving as the music director of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, the Aspen Music Festival and School, and the principal conductor of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, has made significant contributions to the world of music. In addition to his conducting efforts, Spano has recently delved back into composing, creating a song cycle based on Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus for mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor.

Dawn Upshaw, a five-time Grammy Award winner, is celebrated for her extensive discography and performances, including her million-selling recording of Symphony No. 3 by Henryk Gorecki. Upshaw’s talents extend to the stage, where she has excelled in a range of operatic roles, from Mozart classics to modern compositions by Stravinsky, Poulenc, and Messiaen. She currently serves as the Head of the Vocal Arts Program at the Tanglewood Music Center.

NEC President Andrea Kalyn expressed her excitement about welcoming Paul Simon, Robert Spano, and Dawn Upshaw to NEC’s 153rd Commencement, recognizing their profound impact on the music world. Reflecting on the honor, Paul Simon shared his delight in receiving the honorary degree from NEC, emphasizing the institution’s commitment to excellence and musical education.

The upcoming Commencement ceremony promises to be a memorable event celebrating the outstanding contributions of these three exceptional musicians.

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