University's new honorary doctorates

An internationally acclaimed conductor has received an honorary degree from a Lancashire university.

Monday, 25th July 2016, 2:12 pm
Updated Monday, 25th July 2016, 3:14 pm
Internationally renowned conductor John Rigby has been made an honorary doctor by Edge Hill University

Edge Hill has awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts.

John Rigby, who orginates from St Helens, started his career in musical theatre and has been musical director for a long list of prestigious productions.

He is currently the musical supervisor for The Phantom of the Opera US tour and for Les Misérables in London and Korea.

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He accepted his award from Edge Hill vice chancellor John Cater at one of the university’s degree ceremonies.

The conductors said: “I can’t help but think of the advice I was given on conducting my first ever performance of Les Misérables many years ago.

“On reaching the podium I found a note left by the orchestra that simply read ‘John, wave arms until music stops. Turn around and bow.”

He added: “ It highlights the point that without the involvement of other people, a conductor is merely somebody stood alone in a room waving their arms around.

“When you’re relied upon as being the person stood at the front, I think the contribution of those around you cannot be valued highly enough.

“I’ve come to realise my effectiveness for being the guy stood at the front is entirely governed by what I’ve absorbed from the world and the people around me.”

Classical pianist Paul Lewis, who is considered one of the leading musicians of his generation also received an Honorary Doctorate of Arts.

Instead of giving the traditional honorary speech, Paul gave the audience a performance of one of his favourite Schubert pieces.

Edge Hill awarded 10 honorary degrees during it’s summer graduation ceremony.

These covered fields ranging from film, law, politics, music, education, and philanthropy.

Among the recipients was former EU foreign policy chief Baroness Cathy Ashton of Upholland, a Labour politician who served as the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and First Vice President of the European Commission.

Peace campaigners Colin and Wendy Parry were presented with honorary doctorates of education for their efforts in promoting peace and community education following the IRA bomb in Warrington which killed their young son.