Actor Alan Alda, Conductor Marin Alsop, Dance Educator Jody Gottfried Arnhold, Soprano Reri Grist, and Dancer and Director Virginia Johnson
to Receive Honorary Doctorates
Alumna and Honorary Doctorate Recipient Marin Alsop to Address the Class of 2021
The Ceremony Will Be Held for a Limited In-Person Audience Outdoors on the Lincoln Center Campus and Will Be Livestreamed on the Juilliard Website
NEW YORK –– The Juilliard School today announced that its 116th commencement ceremony will be held in person on Friday, June 18, 2021, at 11am, outdoors on the Lincoln Center campus for a limited audience. The ceremony will also be livestreamed at juilliard.edu for those unable to attend in person.
Juilliard President Damian Woetzel has invited alumna, conductor, and champion of arts education Marin Alsop to give the commencement address for the class of 2021. Alsop is the chief conductor of the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, chief conductor and curator of Chicago’s Ravinia Festival, and conductor of honor of Brazil’s São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, where she served as music director for seven years. In September, Alsop assumes the title of music director laureate of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra following 14 years as music director, a tenure that included her founding OrchKids, a music education program for disadvantaged youth.
“I am incredibly proud of the magnitude of what our graduates––and indeed all of our students––have accomplished despite the challenges of the past year,” Woetzel said. “We wish for our commencement ceremony to be a source of inspiration and celebration for our class of 2021 and for the entire community of faculty and staff who have brought these graduates to this milestone. It is our intention to create a ceremony that is both safe and highly meaningful for our graduates. I am so pleased that Marin Alsop will give our commencement address. Her artistic path and her teaching and mentoring of our students as well as young people around the world provides inspiration for the future of the arts.”
In addition to Alsop, honorary doctorates will be presented to the following industry luminaries:
Actor, writer, and director Alan Alda played Hawkeye Pierce and wrote many of the episodes on the classic TV series M*A*S*H, and appeared in continuing roles on ER, The West Wing, 30 Rock, The Blacklist, The Big C, Horace and Pete, The Good Fight, and Ray Donovan. His most recent venture is the podcast Clear + Vivid With Alan Alda.
Jody Gottfried Arnhold, founder of Dance Education Laboratory (DEL) at the 92nd Street Y, is a dance educator and advocate and the executive producer of the New York Emmy-nominated documentary, PS DANCE! A former public school dance teacher herself, her mission is, dance for every child.
After a memorable debut singing “Somewhere” in the original Broadway cast of West Side Story, soprano Reri Grist enjoyed a 30-year operatic career, singing major roles in leading opera houses across Europe and North America. A beloved teacher, Grist has served as professor of voice in Munich and at Indiana University, Bloomington, and she has led master classes throughout the U.S. and Europe.
Virginia Johnson has been the artistic director of Dance Theatre of Harlem since 2009, and is a founding member and former principal dancer of the company. She is best known for her performances in Giselle, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Fall River Legend. Johnson founded Pointe magazine and was editor in chief from 2000 to 2009.
Seating will be limited to the graduates only; no other tickets will be available. The commencement ceremony will have a reduced capacity, following all health and safety guidelines currently in place for outdoor events, and it will include masks and social distancing. These plans are subject to change according to the public health and safety guidelines in place at the time of the event.
Biographies of the Honorary Degree Recipients
Seven-time Emmy winner Alan Alda played Hawkeye Pierce and wrote many of the episodes on the classic TV series M*A*S*H; he also had continuing roles on ER, The West Wing, 30 Rock, The Blacklist, The Big C, Horace and Pete, The Good Fight, and Ray Donovan. Alda’s interest in science led to his hosting Scientific American Frontiers (PBS) for 11 years. Also on PBS, he hosted the miniseries The Human Spark as well as Brains on Trial.
Alda was nominated for an Oscar for his role in the 2004 film The Aviator, and he received the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019. His other films include Marriage Story, Bridge of Spies, The Longest Ride, Tower Heist, Wanderlust, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Manhattan Murder Mystery, And the Band Played On, Same Time, Next Year, and California Suite as well as The Seduction of Joe Tynan, which he wrote, and The Four Seasons, Sweet Liberty, A New Life, and Betsy’s Wedding, which he wrote and directed. His theater credits include Tony-nominated performances in Glengarry Glen Ross, Jake’s Women, and The Apple Tree; he wrote the play Radiance: The Passion of Marie Curie as well as Dear Albert, a reading for the stage of Einstein’s letters.
Alda co-founded and is a visiting professor at Stony Brook University’s Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science; he’s a fellow of the American Physical Society; and he’s on the board of the World Science Festival. His honors include the Distinguished Kavli Science Communicator, National Science Board’s Public Service, and the Scientific American Lifetime Achievement awards as well as the National Academy of Sciences Public Welfare Medal. A bestselling author, Alda most recently wrote If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?—My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating. His Clear + Vivid With Alan Alda podcast—interviews with experts at influencing and relating to others—has had more than 12 million downloads.
Marin Alsop (Pre-College, ’72; BM ’77, MM ’78, violin) is the first woman to serve as the head of major orchestras in the U.S., South America, Austria, and Britain. The 2019-20 season was her first as chief conductor of the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra; she is chief conductor and curator of Chicago’s Ravinia Festival; and, in 2020, became the first music director of the National Orchestral Institute + Festival (NOI+F), a program of the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. In September, Alsop assumes the title of music director laureate of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra following 14 years as music director, a tenure that included her founding OrchKids, a music education program for disadvantaged youth. In 2019, after seven years as music director, Alsop became conductor of honor of Brazil’s São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, where she continues conducting major projects each season. Last year, a planned commemoration of Beethoven’s 250th anniversary with leading international arts organizations was transformed into a crowd-sourced project and call for tolerance, unity, and joy through the composer’s Ninth Symphony with videos tagged #GlobalOdeToJoy.
Alsop has longstanding relationships with the London Philharmonic and London Symphony orchestras and regularly guest conducts major international ensembles. She has received multiple Gramophone Awards and has recorded for Decca, Harmonia Mundi, and Sony Classical as well as released Naxos cycles of Brahms with the London Philharmonic, Dvořák with the Baltimore Symphony, and Prokofiev with the São Paulo Symphony. Committed to new music, Alsop was music director of California’s Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music for 25 years.
In addition to being a MacArthur Fellowship awardee, Alsop has also been honored with the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award and made history as the first female conductor of the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms. Among other awards and academic positions, she is the artist in residence at Vienna’s University of Music and Performing Arts and director of graduate conducting at the Johns Hopkins University’s Peabody Institute; she also holds an honorary doctorate from Yale. To nurture the careers of fellow female conductors, in 2002 she founded what is now known as the Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship.
Dance educator and advocate Jody Gottfried Arnhold is the founder of the Dance Education Laboratory at 92Y and an executive producer of the New York Emmy–nominated documentary PS DANCE! Dance Education in New York City Public Schools, created to raise awareness and advocate for her mission: dance for every child.
Arnhold’s experiences teaching dance in New York City public schools for 25 years were the catalyst for her support of dance education. Her contributions have created unparalleled opportunities for dance to be taught, researched, measured, and analyzed, providing substantial evidence that dance is essential to every child’s education. The Arnhold Graduate Dance Education Program at Hunter College, created as a pipeline to train and certify dance educators, has contributed to more than 500 certified dance educators in NYC schools. Arnhold’s support for the dance education doctoral program and the Arnhold Institute for Dance Education Research, Policy & Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University, has generated valuable leadership for dance education in public policy. She holds a master’s from Teacher’s College.
In addition to her support of dance in public schools and higher education, Arnhold supports many New York City dance companies including Ballet Hispanico, where she is honorary chair, and she mentors dance educators. Her numerous awards include the Floria V. Lasky, National Dance Education Organization Visionary, Dance Films Association’s Dance in Focus, Teachers College Distinguished Alumni, Education Update Distinguished Leader in Education, and Dance Films Association Dance in Focus awards. Arnhold serves on the board of numerous NYC education and cultural institutions including 92Y, Lincoln Center, Ballet Hispanico, and Hunter College Foundation, and she is a director of the Arnhold Foundation, Harkness Foundation for Dance, and Mulago Foundation. She has been honored by Lincoln Center Education, Dance Theatre of Harlem, José Limón Dance Foundation, and American Dance Guild for her contributions to dance and dance education.
Coloratura soprano Reri Grist was born in New York City and debuted on Broadway at age 14 with Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. She studied with Claire Gelda and graduated from the High School of Music & Art and Queens College. In 1957, as Consuelo in West Side Story, she was the voice of “Somewhere.” Grist then recorded Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with Leonard Bernstein. She debuted with the Santa Fe Opera in 1959, and then joined the Cologne Opera (1960), the Zürich Opera (1961-64), the Vienna State Opera (1963), and the Munich State Opera (1970). Her career included a 1966 debut (with return performances over 12 years) at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, and 73 performances at the San Francisco Opera, including L’elisir d’amore opposite Luciano Pavarotti in 1969.
Since her last opera performance (at De Nederlandse Opera Amsterdam, in 1991), Grist has continued to teach. She has served as professor of voice in Munich and at Indiana University, Bloomington, and she has led numerous master classes in Santa Fe, New York, San Francisco, Zürich, and Madrid. In addition to having a legion of admiring students, Grist’s accolades include the Legacy Award from the National Opera Association, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Licia Albanese Foundation, and an honorary doctorate from Queens College. With her husband of 53 years, Ulf Thomson (a musicologist and former general manager of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra), Grist resides in Hamburg, Germany.
Virginia Johnson was a founding member of and principal dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) for 27 years and has been its artistic director since 2009. Born in Washington, D.C., she graduated from the Academy of the Washington School of Ballet and attended the School of the Arts at New York University as a University Honors Scholar.
Recognized as one of the great ballerinas of her generation, she is best known for her performances in Giselle, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Fall River Legend. At DTH, she performed most of the repertoire, with principal roles in Concerto Barocco, Allegro Brillante, Agon, A Streetcar Named Desire, Fall River Legend, Swan Lake, Giselle, Voluntaries, and Les Biches, among others, several of which were recorded for broadcast. Her choreographic credits include the television film Ancient Voices of Children as well as works for Goucher College, Dancers Responding to AIDS, the Second Annual Harlem Festival of the Arts, Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center, and Marymount Manhattan College, where she was an adjunct professor. While she was still performing, Johnson’s interest in journalism led her to Fordham University, and after retiring, she received a grant from The Field that opened doors to arts producing. She attended the School of Visual Arts, where she studied drawing, filmmaking, and television production before becoming founding editor in chief of Pointe magazine (2000-09).
Johnson’s honors include a Young Achiever Award from the National Council of Women, Outstanding Young Woman of America, and the Dance Magazine Award, a Pen and Brush Achievement Award, Washington Performing Arts Society lifetime achievement award, Martha Hill Dance Fund Mid-Career Award, and an honorary doctorate from Cornish College of the Arts. An honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and The Society, Incorporated, in 2016, she was honored by First Lady Michelle Obama for her contribution to dance. In 2018, she held the Brackett Visiting Artist Chair at the University of Oklahoma, and in 2019, she received the Washington Ballet’s Mary Day Award and the CORPS de Ballet International Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2020, she received a medal of honor from the Actor’s Fund. She serves on the advisory boards of the Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU and of Dance NYC, and she is a member of the board of the Guggenheim’s Works & Process series.
About The Juilliard School
Founded in 1905, The Juilliard School is a world leader in performing arts education. The school’s mission is to provide the highest caliber of artistic education for gifted musicians, dancers, and actors from around the world so that they may achieve their fullest potential as artists, leaders, and global citizens. Located at Lincoln Center in New York City, Juilliard offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in dance, drama (acting and playwriting), and music (classical, jazz, historical performance, and vocal arts). Currently more than 800 artists from 43 states and 44 countries and regions are enrolled at Juilliard, where they appear in over 700 annual performances in the school’s five theaters; at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully and David Geffen halls and at Carnegie Hall; as well as at other venues around New York City, the country, and the world. Beyond its New York campus, Juilliard is defining new directions in global performing arts education for a range of learners and enthusiasts through The Tianjin Juilliard School and K-12 educational curricula.
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Alan Alda (Courtesy of Alan Alda)
Marin Alsop (Photo by Platon)
Jody Gottfried Arnhold (Photo by Arthur Elgort)
Reri Grist (Photo by Wolfgang Kleinhempel)
Virginia Johnson (Photo by François Rousseau)