Playwright Tony Kushner—whose epic, two-part play Angels in America won a Pulitzer Prize and two Tony Awards—will address the class of 2010 at Juilliard’s 105th commencement on May 21 in Alice Tully Hall. Mr. Kushner will receive an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree, as will actor and Juilliard alumna Patti LuPone, dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, and opera and stage director and former faculty member Frank Corsaro. Receiving honorary Doctor of Music degrees will be the legendary singer Tony Bennett and musicologist and Mahler expert Henry-Louis de La Grange. Earning a Doctor of Humane Letters degree will be Glorya Kaufman, a longtime friend to Juilliard whose philanthropic ventures have benefitted thousands around the world.
A renowned playwright and screenwriter, New York native Tony Kushner was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his play Angels in America: Millennium Approaches in 1993. His many works for the stage include Caroline, or Change; A Bright Room Called Day; and Homebody/Kabul. He has written adaptations of Pierre Corneille’s L’Illusion Comique, S.Y. Ansky’s The Dybbuk, and works by Bertolt Brecht, as well as English-language librettos for the operas Brundibar by Hans Krasa and Comedy on the Bridge by Bohuslav Martinu. Mr. Kushner wrote the screenplays for Mike Nichols’s film version of Angels in America and Steven Spielberg’s Munich. His books include Thinking About the Longstanding Problems of Virtue and Happiness and Wrestling With Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, co-edited with Alisa Solomon. Mr. Kushner’s most recent play, The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures, premiered at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis in May 2009 and is scheduled to open in New York in 2011. In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, his many honors include an Emmy Award, an Oscar nomination, two Tony Awards, three Obie Awards, and an Olivier Award. In 2008, he became the first recipient of the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award.
One of the greatest ballet dancers of the 20th century, Mikhail Baryshnikov, a native of Riga, Latvia, began studying ballet at age 9. As a teenager, he entered the school of the Kirov Ballet, graduating from student to principal dancer in 1969. In 1974, he left Russia to pursue a career with ballet and modern companies around the world. He settled in New York City in 1979 as a principal dancer with American Ballet Theater, and from 1979 to 1980, he danced with the New York City Ballet, working with George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. In 1980 he returned to the American Ballet Theater as the company’s artistic director. Mr. Baryshnikov and choreographer Mark Morris co-founded the White Oak Dance Project, where Mr. Baryshnikov served as artistic director and dancer from 1990 to 2002. At present, Mr. Baryshnikov devotes his time and energy to the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York City, a multidisciplinary artistic center and performance space housing the Baryshnikov Dance Foundation’s activities. He has been awarded the Kennedy Center Honors, the National Medal of the Arts, the Commonwealth Award, the Chubb Fellowship, and the Jerome Robbins Award.
Legendary singer Tony Bennett has sold millions of records worldwide, including dozens of platinum and gold albums. Influenced by Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole, Bennett began singing at a young age and performed with military bands while serving in the army during World War II. Later, he studied at the American Theater Wing School and began singing in nightclubs. He rose to fame with a string of Columbia singles in the 1950s, introducing his signature hit, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” in the early ’60s. Mr. Bennett has received 15 Grammy Awards, including the prestigious Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and two Emmy Awards. He became a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2005, and was named an N.E.A. Jazz Master in 2006. He has also been honored with Billboard magazine’s Century Award, and received both the Citizen of the World Award and the 2007 Humanitarian Award from the United Nations. In honor of his longtime friend and supporter Frank Sinatra, Mr. Bennett spearheaded the creation of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, a New York City public high school that opened in 2001 in Astoria, Queens, where Mr. Bennett grew up. With his wife, Susan, Mr. Bennett founded Exploring the Arts, an organization supporting the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts and aiding arts education in public schools. An avid painter, he has received commissions from the United Nations and his work has been included in the Smithsonian Institute’s permanent collections.
Frank Corsaro’s acclaimed career as a stage director includes theater and opera productions around the world. Since 1957, he has been associated with the New York City Opera, where his productions have included Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Die tote Stadt, Frederick Delius’s A Village Romeo and Juliet, Janacek’s The Makropolous Case and The Cunning Little Vixen, and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, in collaboration with George Balanchine and Peter Martins. Mr. Corsaro has also worked with the Metropolitan Opera, where he debuted as director of Handel’s Rinaldo in 1984, the first production of Handel at the Met. Mr. Corsaro was a Juilliard faculty member from 1987 to 2008, when he became faculty emeritus. Serving as artistic director of the Juilliard Opera Center, his productions included Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea (1994), Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine and Les Mamelles de Tiresias (1993), and Verdi’s Fastaff (1991). In 1997, he collaborated with Maurice Sendak on a reinterpretation of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, which premiered at Juilliard and was broadcast on public television. Mr. Corsaro’s librettos include Before Breakfast, based on the Eugene O’Neill play, with music by Thomas Pasatieri; Heloise and Abelard, with music by Stephen Paulus, which premiered at Juilliard in 2003; and Frau Margot, with music by Thomas Pasatieri. Mr. Corsaro is the author of the novel Kunma, as well as several other books.
Glorya Kaufman’s devotion to the arts and the welfare of disadvantaged people has given rise to a diverse array of philanthropic ventures. In 2008, following many years of charitable giving, she established the Glorya Kaufman Dance Foundation, which focuses on supporting nonprofit organizations in the United States. In March 2009, she oversaw the dedication of the 2,300-square-foot, glass-enclosed Glorya Kaufman Dance Studio at Juilliard, which was underwritten by her gift to the School. Additional projects have included a dance academy at Inner-City Arts in Los Angeles, the restoration of U.C.L.A.’s dance building, and the sponsorship of student participation in the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s educational programs. Ms. Kaufman’s aid to what is now the Donald Bruce Kaufman/Brentwood Branch Library in Los Angeles, in memory of her husband, helped the rebuilding of the facility, completed in 1994. Her donations to Los Angeles’s Mar Vista Family Center and St. John’s Hospital, among others, have breathed new life into community-oriented facilities. Ms. Kaufman is a founding member of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and has twice been named Brentwood’s Citizen of the Year. In November 2009, she received the Impact Award from the Dizzy Feet Foundation at Kodak Theater in Los Angeles, honoring her support of the organization’s mission to provide dance scholarships to underserved youth and to increase access to dance education. Ms. Kaufman’s support has also been commended by organizations such as the Brentwood-Westwood Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, and the Rotary Club.
Henry-Louis de La Grange is a distinguished scholar, critic, and renowned biographer of Gustav Mahler. Born in Paris, he studied music at Yale University and continued his training in Paris with Yvonne Lefébure and Nadia Boulanger. Mr. de La Grange began his career as a music critic in 1952, writing for Opera News, Saturday Review, The New York Herald, The New York Times, Musical America, and Opus magazine, as well as various publications in France. His acclaimed biography of Mahler was first published in New York in 1973 by Doubleday and in London in 1974 by Gollancz. In 1979, an updated and expanded version was published in France by Fayard, followed by two additional volumes. In 2008, Oxford University Press published the fourth volume of Mr. de La Grange’s Gustav Mahler, having previously published the first three volumes. Recognized as a definitive work, the biography earned, in the United States, the Deems Taylor Award in 1974; and in France, the Syndicat de la Critique Théâtre, Musique, et Danse’s prize for the best book on music in 1983 and the Grand Prix de Littérature Musicale from the Académie Charles Cros in 1984. The work has also been honored by the Royal Philharmonic Society. Mr. de La Grange lectures on Mahler throughout the world and is co-founder, along with Maurice Fleuret, of the Mahler Multimedia Library in Paris, which holds Mr. de La Grange’s vast collection of Mahler-related research materials.
A graduate of Group 1, the first class of Juilliard’s Drama Division, Patti LuPone has achieved a distinguished career in the theater. She and her graduating class were founding members of John Houseman’s troupe, the Acting Company, and toured the country for four years performing a variety of classic plays in repertory. Ms. LuPone received Tony and Drama Desk Awards for her roles as Eva Peron in Evita (1980) and Mama Rose in Gypsy (2008), the latter also earning her the Outer Critics Circle Award for best actress in a musical and the Drama League Award for distinguished performance. Equally at home on the dramatic stage and in musicals, Ms. LuPone credits her Juilliard training for this versatility. Her recent stage credits include Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny with the Los Angeles Opera, the premiere of Jake Heggie’s opera To Hell and Back with San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, and the role of Mrs. Lovett in the 2005 Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, for which she received the Drama League Award for outstanding contribution to musical theater. Ms. LuPone has also recently performed the title role in Marc Blitzstein’s Regina at the Kennedy Center in Washington and the role of Fosca in a concert version of Sondheim’s Passion at the Ravinia Festival in Illinois; the latter was broadcast on PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center. In London, Ms. LuPone created the role of Norma Desmond in the original production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard and won the Olivier Award for her role as Fantine in the original production of Les Misérables as well as for her performance in the Acting Company’s production of Marc Blitzstein’s The Cradle Will Rock.