May 20, 2020

CIM Celebrates Class of 2020 With Online Commencement - And a Record Audience

Commencement 2020

When organist Hannah Koby (MM ’20, Wilson) played Mendelssohn’s Allegro from Sonata in C to open the Cleveland Institute of Music’s commencement celebration, every graduate experienced an event they’ll likely never forget.

It was the first time in CIM’s history that commencement was held live online, but the festivities were no less exciting or heartfelt. Normally held in 535-seat Kulas Hall, the virtual celebration, held on Saturday, May 16, had more than 2,730 total views – a CIM record.

“We are proud of your dedication to artistic excellence and to the CIM standard,” CIM President and CEO Paul W. Hogle said. “We are proud of the discipline you brought to the mastery of technique and of repertoire, how you collaborated with fellow students, performed on the stages of Mixon and Kulas Halls, built a creative network of lifelong connections, and, today, we are proud to release you with the monogram which will empower you to be the future of classical music: CIM.”

Before the conferral of degrees by Hogle, Chief Academic Officer and Dean of the Conservatory Judy A. Bundra and Senior Dean Brian Sweigart, guests were treated to performances by distinguished CIM faculty Ilya Kaler (violin), Antonio Pompa-Baldi (piano) and Jason Vieaux (guitar) and stirring remarks from commencement speaker Michael Tilson Thomas, music director of the San Francisco Symphony and venerable conductor, composer and educator. MTT, as Tilson Thomas is affectionately known worldwide, also was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Musical Arts degree by CIM and Board of Trustees Chair Richard J. Hipple. CIM has granted more than 90 honorary doctorates since 1965.

MTT urged the graduates to follow their dreams with a burning passion. “Classical music is essential, it’s like life, it’s breath, it’s everything to you,” he said. “I have such great respect for all of you who have set out on this lifelong path of being musicians. Find something to do in your life that represents the highest ideals you believe in. I encourage you to keep your faith and your invention through these crazy times.”

CIM also honored two of its most prominent alumni – Distinguished Alumni Award recipient and percussionist Timothy Kennedy Adams, Jr. (BM ’83, MM ’87, Duff/Weiner/Yancich), chair of the percussion department at the University of Georgia’s Hugh Hodgson School of Music, and Alumni Achievement Award recipient Boris Allakhverdyan (MM ’10, Cohen), principal clarinet of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and member of the faculty at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.

Included in this year’s commencement celebration was the recognition of students who received annual awards and prizes. Many of these awards are funded by generous donors who choose to honor family members, friends or former teachers. A complete list of award winners can be found in the event program.

As the ceremony concluded, Hogle reflected on the rights, privileges and responsibilities of the new degree that each new alumnus now holds.

“These rights and privileges bring a responsibility to make good use of your new monogram,” Hogle said. “Today you join a long line of distinguished alumni who have taken that responsibility seriously and have claimed and capitalized on CIM’s vision that you are the future of classical music. So, I ask you now: How will you put your CIM monogram to use?”

Hogle concluded by telling them that they are being counted on to be the future of classical music.

“The study of classical music is never in vain,” he said. “It is intrinsically good, true and beautiful. Do not listen to anyone who tells you its time has come and gone. Classical music is not fleeting but it is a permanent good, and there will always be an inescapable need for our music, expertly played. Be the future of classical music.”

To replay the commencement celebration, visit CIM’s commencement page.