Billy Joel to deliver Syracuse University and SUNY ESF commencement address
Billy Joel to deliver Syracuse University and SUNY ESF commencement addressJanuary 19, 2006Sara Millersemortim@syr.edu
Popular recording artist and entertainer Billy Joel will deliver the 2006 Commencement Address to graduates of Syracuse University and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) during joint exercises Sunday, May 14, in the Carrier Dome.
“I’m thrilled that Billy Joel has accepted our invitation,” said SU Chancellor Nancy Cantor. “For years, he has been a major voice in music and the arts, which are a big part of life on our campus. We welcome his vision and his commentary about the society in which our graduates will be leaders.”
Having sold more than 100 million records over the past quarter century, Joel ranks as one of the most popular recording artists and respected entertainers in the world. Since signing his first solo recording contract in 1972, he has recorded 33 Top 40 hits, earned 23 Grammy nominations and was presented with a Grammy Legend Award in 1990. Joel was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992 and was presented in 2001 with the Johnny Mercer Award, the organization’s highest honor. In 1999, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and, in 2004, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, adding another milestone to his extraordinary career. On Broadway, Joel received a 2003 Tony award for his orchestrations for the hit musical “Movin’ Out,” a collaboration with choreographer Twyla Tharp.
A longtime advocate for music education, Joel provided a $320,000 gift to SU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts in September 2005 as part of his recently launched music education initiative that provides gifts of seed money, musical scholarships and endowments to East Coast colleges. With this gift, VPA will establish Billy Joel Fellowships in Composition in the Rose, Jules R. and Stanford S. Setnor School of Music. In addition to the VPA gift, Joel made grants to six other institutions: the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, New York University, TheJulliard School, State University of New York at Purchase, New England Conservatory and Tanglewood Music Center, the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Academy for Advanced Musical Study. Joel has also held master classes on college campuses across the country and around the world for more than 20 years.
Joel was chosen as this year’s Commencement speaker through a selection process designed to give students and others in the University community the opportunity to assist in the decision-making. A student committee composed of the senior class marshals, the student marshals from each of the University’s schools and colleges and the three student representatives to the University’s Board of Trustees coordinated the process. Suggestions were collected through a Web site and offered directly to the committee. The committee reviewed all potential speakers and made specific suggestions to Cantor, whose office conveyed the invitation to Joel.