Randy Weston African Rhythms
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New England Conservatory of Music Boston
Honory Degree

Doctor of Music for Randy Weston


May 2013

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 American improvisation,
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.


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