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May 30 , 2014

NEC 2014 Honorary Degrees for Carla Bley and Arvo Pärt

New England Conservatory has bestowed honorary Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) degrees on distinguished musicians and scholars at its 143rd annual Commencement Exercises, Sunday, May 18 at 3 p.m. in NEC’s Jordan Hall. The recipients included jazz composer/bandleader Carla Bley and Estonian-born composer Arvo Pärt.

Carla Bley’s notable recorded works include A Genuine Tong Funeral, written for Gary Burton, the jazz opera Escalator Over the Hill, Fleur Carnivore, The Carla Bley Big Band Goes to Church, Looking for America, and The Lost Chords amongst many others. One of the pioneers in the development of artist-owned record labels, she and her second husband Michael Mantler created WATT Records, for which she recorded many of her works and which has been distributed through ECM since the 1970s.

In September 2013 Trios, her first album for ECM itself, produced by Manfred Eicher in Lugano, was released to critical and public acclaim.

Bley has been honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1972 and the German Jazz Trophy “A Life for Jazz” in 2009.

Arvo Pärt is one of the most influential and performed of living composers today. Musicians and ensembles from the Los Angeles Philharmonic to the Hilliard Ensemble to Gidon Kremer to the London Philharmonic, the Philharmonia, and Esa Pekka Salonen have performed his work. Since 1984 all premiere recordings of his new compositions have been issued on ECM New Series.

Nominated for a Grammy Award in 2009 for the recording of his Symphony No. 4 “Los Angeles”, Pärt’s Adam’s Lament won a Grammy in January 2014 for Best Choral Performance. In 2011, the composer was appointed a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture for a five-year term by Pope Benedict XVI.