Esa-Pekka Salonen receiving honorary degree at USC


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Esa-Pekka Salonen has returned to Los Angeles -- but just for a few days.

The Finnish conductor and former music director of the L.A. Philharmonic is receiving an honorary doctorate at Friday’s commencement ceremony at the University of Southern California.


In its citation, the university described Salonen as a ‘preeminent composer, conductor and advocate of contemporary music.’

Salonen is one of five people receiving honorary doctorates this year at USC. The others include William J. Bratton, the former L.A. Police Department chief; John Hood, former vice chancellor of the University of Auckland and of the University of Oxford; Ting-Kai Li, a physician and scientist; and Festus G. Mogae, the former president of Botswana.

Salonen is receiving his honorary degree from the university and then speaking at the satellite ceremony for the Thornton School of Music on the south lawn at Ramo Hall at 10:30 a.m. A spokesman at the USC Thornton School of Music said that Salonen participated in an informal master class at the school earlier this week during which he reviewed students’ scores.

The meeting was organized by Don Crockett, chair of the composition department. Salonen reviewed student compositions, listened to recordings and offered comments.

In 2009, Salonen stepped down as music director of the L.A. Philharmonic after a tenure of 17 years. During his time in L.A., he championed the programming of new music and helped to oversee the orchestra’s move to Walt Disney Concert Hall. He is currently the principal conductor of London’s Philharmonia.

USC is broadcasting the ceremony online and you can watch it here.


-- David Ng


For Esa-Pekka Salonen, it’s been ‘a tough year’