It is my great honor and privilege to present
Randy Weston for the honorary degree, Doctor of Music.
Renowned as one of the world's foremost improvising pianists and composers since the 1950s and
widely credited for his pioneering work in bringing African and Middle Eastern roots music to
Randy has twice graced our school with residencies that brought our
students in direct contact with his powerful vision and inspiring musical voice. That vision was
formed early on in a part of Brooklyn where he encountered musicians of every possible background
and influence, a world vibrant with the musical language of swing, bebop, and the African diaspora
in all of its many manifestations.
Randy's music is a music of universals, an art form indelibly intertwined with dance, religion,
language, and social history, a powerful expression that speaks easily across cultural boundaries.
Hearing it, we are constantly aware of his place in a continuum that unites him with some of
history's greatest musical figures, Duke Ellington, Count Basic, and Thelonious Monk.
But Randy's message about that continuum is not about theoretical analysis or compositional craft.
Instead, he speaks eloquently of the intrinsic power and deep meaning of African rhythms, rhythms
that are at the very heart of human expression and communication, rhythms with roots in ancient
spiritual practices and healing rituals, rhythms that are intrinsically bound up with the beliefs
of our ancestors, rhythms that make music a positive and joyful vehicle for transcending the pain
and confusion of exile, oppression, and injustice.
For so many musicians worldwide trying to connect with their own roots music, Randy's profound
example has been there to show us the way. His message: Go deep, very deep into every aspect of
your cultural heritage, and when you think you've gone as deep as you can go, go even deeper until
you find a profound and meaningful connection between yourself and the true spirits of your ancestors.
Mr. President, I am delighted to present to you Randy Weston to receive the honorary degree, Doctor of Music.
Hankus Netsky, presenting Randy Weston - May, 2013.