Composer Gordon Getty to be Honored at San Francisco Conservatory Commencement, 5/23

Composer Gordon Getty to be Honored at San Francisco Conservatory Commencement, 5/23

Composer, venture capitalist and philanthropist Gordon Getty will receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in commencement ceremonies at 10:30 a.m. on May 23, 2014. For more than 30 years, Getty has pursued a career in classical composition while leading business ventures and giving millions of dollars in support of the arts and sciences through the Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation. His song cycles, operas, chamber music and works for chorus and orchestra have been performed in major venues around the world by ensembles including the San Francisco Symphony, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, London's Philharmonia Orchestra, the Russian National Orchestra and many others. Getty, himself a former Conservatory student, will deliver the commencement address to the class of 2014, offering insights gleaned from a life spent practicing and fostering the musical arts.

"We are privileged to confer on Gordon Getty the Conservatory's honorary doctoral degree and thrilled that he will join us as commencement speaker for the class of 2014," says Conservatory President David H. Stull. "Mr. Getty's extraordinary career as composer, artist, entrepreneur, advocate for the arts, and cultural leader, not only in the City of San Francisco, but in the United States of America and in the world beyond, makes him an ideal candidate to receive our honorary degree and to inspire our graduating class."

Gordon Getty has been honored as an Outstanding American Composer by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and by the American Symphony Orchestra League. Since the 1980s, he has written a significant body of works in a largely tonal style. Many are inspired by Victorian-era poetry and literature, such as the one-act opera, Usher House, a re-telling of a story by Edgar Allan Poe, which receives its stage premiere by the Welsh National Opera in June, 2014. Pianist Conrad Tao recently recorded a CD of the composer's solo piano works for the PentaTone label. PentaTone also has released Getty's operas and choral works, a CD of orchestral works performed by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields conducted by Sir Neville Marriner, and solo vocal works including Poor Peter and the widely-performed song cycle The White Election, based on poems of Emily Dickinson, in recordings that feature Conservatory alumnae Lisa Delan '89, soprano, and Kristin Pankonin '89, piano.

As a businessman, Getty spearheaded the sale of Getty Oil to Texaco in 1984. He is the founder of Forward Management, Inc., and owns a variety of businesses in the wine and hospitality industries. He has a deep interest in economics and writes on the subject of growth metrics. Nourishing an abiding enthusiasm for anthropology and biology, Getty has served for forty years on the board of the Leakey Foundation and has been a board member of the Berkeley Geochronology Center since its establishment in 1998. He is an emeritus board member of the J. Paul Getty Trust where he enjoyed two seated terms and was active during The Getty Center opening in 1997. Getty also serves on the Trustee Advisory Board of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He is married to Ann Gilbert Getty.

At its May 23 Commencement, the Conservatory expects to confer degrees on 42 undergraduate, 106 graduate and 24 postgraduate students in the areas of instrumental performance, voice, piano accompanying, composition, conducting and chamber music. President Stull will preside over ceremonies, joined by Board of Trustees Chair Timothy Foo and family and friends of the graduating class whose members represent 27 states and 18 countries. The event, which includes student performances and speeches, will take place in the Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall at 50 Oak Street.

Past recipients of honorary doctoral degrees granted by the Conservatory include Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra Music Director Nicholas McGegan, San Francisco Symphony Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas, guitarist Pepe Romero, opera singer Frederica von Stade and flutist Paula Robison.

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