Renowned opera singer and conductor Plácido Domingo will address the graduating class on May 23 at Juilliard’s 103rd commencement in Avery Fisher Hall. Mr. Domingo will receive an honorary Doctor of Music degree, as will jazz legend Hank Jones and acclaimed pianist Mitsuko Uchida. Doctor of Fine Arts degrees will be awarded to dancer and actor Carmen de Lavallade, and playwright and actor Anna Deavere Smith. Earning a Doctor of Humane Letters will be philanthropist Charles Simonyi.
Carmen de Lavallade, distinguished actor and dancer for more than 40 years, began training when she won a scholarship to study with Lester Horton at the age of 16. Throughout her career she has danced leading and principal roles with the Metropolitan Opera, American Ballet Theater, Alvin Ailey, the Boston Opera, and the John Butler Dance Company. Ms. de Lavallade also appeared in the films Carmen Jones and Lydia Bailey, and received acclaim for roles as Emilia in the Roundabout Theater’s production of Othello and as Titania in the famed Yale Repetory Theater’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. During her career, she was honored with a Dance Magazine Award, the Clarence Bayfield Award, the sixth annual Women of Strength and Courage Award, and the Capezio Dance Award, among many others. She has also taught movement to actors at Yale University and held the position of director of dance at Adelphi University.
Plácido Domingo has sung 124 different roles—likely more than any other tenor in the annals of music. He has sung repertoire ranging from Mozart and Puccini to Wagner and Ginastera in major opera houses around the world, and has opened the Metropolitan Opera’s season a record-setting 21 times. Among Mr. Domingo’s many recordings, which have earned him eight Grammy Awards, are 101 of full-length operas, as well as more than 50 videos and 3 theatrically released films: Zeffirelli’s Traviata and Otello and Francesco Rosi’s Carmen. His telecast of Tosca from Rome was seen by more than a billion people in 117 countries. As a conductor, Mr. Domingo had led opera in houses including the Met, Covent Garden, and the Vienna State Opera, as well as symphonic concerts with the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics and the London and Chicago Symphonies. He is currently general director of both the Washington National Opera and the Los Angeles Opera. Through benefit concerts, he has raised millions for victims of disasters around the world. He has been honored by the Kennedy Center, received France’s Legion of Honor, is an Honorary Knight of the British Empire, and was awarded the United States Medal of Freedom.
Hank Jones, one of the few individuals recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts as a “Jazz Master,” has had a prolific career. Over the course of his 70 years as a jazz pianist and composer, Mr. Jones has performed with Billy Eckstein’s big band, Colman Hawkins, the Jazz Philharmonic, Ella Fitzgerald, Artie Shaw, Johnny Hodges, Tyree Glenn, and Benny Goodman, and also served as CBS studio's staff pianist for 17 years. He accompanied Marilyn Monroe when she sang “Happy Birthday Mr. President” to the late John F. Kennedy. With more than 500 albums and CDs and numerous concerts, Mr. Jones is one of the most sought after and recorded pianists in jazz history. Inducted into the International Jazz Hall of Fame, he has also received other notable awards and titles including a Congressional Achievement Award, ASCAP’s Living Legend Jazz Wall of Fame, several Grammy nominations, a Jazz Journalist Award, and the Highlights in Jazz Award.
Charles Simonyi has made impressive contributions to computer technology, science programs, art organizations, and educational institutions. He earned a doctorate in computer science from Stanford University in 1977. Having already worked at Xerox Corporation’s Palo Alto Research Center from 1972 to 1980, Mr. Simonyi joined the Microsoft Corporation, where he and his team developed Microsoft Word, Exel, and other best-selling software applications. He left in 2002, with the title of Distinguished Engineer, to found Intentional Software Corporation. Through the Charles Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences, he has made generous gifts to the Seattle Symphony, the Seattle Public Library, and the Karoly Simonyi Memorial Endowment Fund at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J. In addition to his own foundation work, he has served on the board of trustees of the Institute for Advanced Study since 1997, and is currently a member of the National Academy of Engineering.
Anna Deavere Smith has made a remarkable impression as an actor, playwright, and teacher. The recipient of a MacArthur Foundation fellowship in 1996, Ms. Smith has created an ongoing series of theater works over the past 19 years collectively titled On the Road: A Search for American Character, including Fires in the Mirror: Crown Heights, Brooklyn and Other Identities; Twilight: Los Angeles, and her most recent play, House Arrest. Her books, Talk to Me: Listening Between the Lines and Letters to a Young Artist: Straight-up Advice on Making a Life In the Arts—For Actors, Performers, Writers and Artists of Every Kind, have both received critical acclaim. Ms. Smith’s film work includes roles in Dave, Philadelphia, The Human Stain, Rent, and The American President. Throughout her career she has been honored with nominations for the Pulitzer Prize, an Obie Award, two Tony Awards, a Drama Desk Award, two NAACP Theater Awards, and numerous others. Ms. Smith is currently on the board of the Museum of Modern Art and chairs the museum’s Committee on Film.
Mitsuko Uchida is a pianist renowned for her musical insight. Illuminating the music of Mozart, Schubert, Berg, Schoenberg, Webern, and Boulez for a new generation of listeners, she has garnered numerous awards including the Gramophone Award for best concerto for her recording of the Schoenberg Piano Concerto with Boulez and the Cleveland Orchestra (where she is artist-in-residence). Next season she will serve as artist-in-residence at the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Ms. Uchida has been the focus of a Carnegie Hall Perspectives series and was featured in the Concertgebouw’s Carte Blanche series, for which she collaborated with Ian Bostridge, the Hagen Quartet, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra as well as directing from the piano a performance of Pierrot Lunaire. She has also performed with the London Symphony and Boston Symphony Orchestras with Sir Colin Davis, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Ensemble Intercontemporain with Pierre Boulez, and the Cleveland Orchestra with Franz Welser-Möst. In addition to her performances and extensive recordings, Ms. Uchida is a trustee of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust and the co-director, with Richard Goode, of the Marlboro Music Festival.