Chicago Symphony Orchestra Music Director Riccardo Muti will deliver the main commencement address June 20 at Northwestern’s 156th commencement ceremony.
Muti is also one of five distinguished individuals who will be recognized with honorary degrees during the ceremony at Ryan Field.
The other honorary degree recipients are Sara Bloomfield, director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; Richard Easterlin, one of the most influential and imaginative economists of his generation; Emmy Award-winning actress Cloris Leachman; and legendary Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, musician, and producer Stevie Wonder.
Muti has been the music director at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 2010 and is one of the preeminent conductors of our day. Born in Naples, Muti has also been music director of Florence’s Maggio Musicale (1968-1980), London’s Philharmonia Orchestra (1972-1982), the Philadelphia Orchestra (1980-1992), and Milan’s La Scala (1986-2005). He has had a close relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic and the Salzburg Festival for more than 40 years. In 2004, Muti founded the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra to train young musicians. He is also the honorary director for life of the Rome Opera.
Muti’s vast catalog of recordings ranges from the traditional repertoire to contemporary works. He is the author of Verdi, l’italiano and Riccardo Muti: An Autobiography: First the Music, Then the Words. He has received innumerable honors from his native Italy, the United States, France, Germany, Austria, Great Britain, Israel, Spain, Russia, Sweden, and the Vatican. He has conducted in many of the world’s most troubled areas to bring attention to and advocate for civic and social issues.
Oscar-nominated director Jehane Noujaim will be the keynote speaker at Northwestern University in Qatar’s May 4 graduation ceremony in Doha.