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Cornish College of the Arts to Award Honorary Degrees to Mark Morris, Gary Hill and Julian Priester

April 13, 2011

SEATTLE, WA – Choreographer Mark Morris, video artist and sculptor Gary Hill, and Trombonist and retiring Music faculty member Julian Priester have been selected to receive honorary degrees from Cornish College of the Arts.  The degrees will be presented by President Sergei P. Tschernisch at the Cornish Commencement Ceremony on May 14, 2011 at 2 pm at Benaroya Hall. Mark Morris will give the Commencement Address at this lively ceremony.

More than 150 students will receive Bachelor of Music or Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in art, dance, design, production performance or theater.

Cornish College of the Arts
2011 Commencement Ceremony
Saturday, May 14, 2 pm
Benaroya Hall
200 University Street

Tickets are not required for the event.
http://www.cornish.edu/academics/registration/commencement/

Biographies

MARK MORRIS was born on August 29, 1956, in Seattle, Washington, where he studied with Verla Flowers and Perry Brunson.  In the early years of his career, he performed with the dance companies of Lar Lubovitch, Hannah Kahn, Laura Dean, Eliot Feld, and the Koleda Balkan Dance Ensemble.  He formed the Mark Morris Dance Group in 1980, and has since created more than 120 works for the company. 

From 1988 to1991, he was Director of Dance at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, the national opera house of Belgium.  Among the works created during his time there were three evening-length dances: L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato; Dido and Aeneas; and The Hard Nut. In 1990, he founded the White Oak Dance Project with Mikhail Baryshnikov. Morris is also a ballet choreographer and has created seven works for the San Francisco Ballet since 1994 and received commissions from many others. 

His work is also in the repertory of the Pacific Northwest Ballet, Boston Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, New Zealand Ballet, Houston Ballet, English National Ballet, and The Royal Ballet.  Morris is noted for his musicality and has been described as “undeviating in his devotion to music.”  He has worked extensively in opera, directing and choreographing productions for The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Gotham Chamber Opera, English National Opera, and The Royal Opera, Covent Garden. 

In 1991, he was named a Fellow of the MacArthur Foundation.  He has received ten honorary doctorates to date.  In 2006, Morris received the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Mayor’s Award for Arts & Culture and a WQXR Gramophone Special Recognition Award “for being an American ambassador for classical music at home and abroad.”  He is the subject of a biography, Mark Morris, by Joan Acocella (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) and Marlowe & Company published a volume of photographs and critical essays entitled Mark Morris’ L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato: A Celebration.  Morris is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.  In 2007, he received the Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival lifetime achievement award.  In 2010, he received the prestigious Leonard Bernstein Lifetime Achievement Award for the Elevation of Music in Society.

GARY HILL (b. 1951, Santa Monica, CA) has worked with a broad range of media – including sculpture, sound, video, installation and performance – since the early 1970s, producing a large body of single-channel videos, mixed-media installations, and performance work.

His longtime work with intermedia continues to explore an array of issues ranging from the physicality of language, synesthesia and perceptual conundrums to ontological space and viewer interactivity.  Exhibitions of his work have been presented at museums and institutions worldwide, including solo exhibitions at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Guggenheim Museum SoHo, New York; Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel; Museu d’Art Contemporani, Barcelona; and Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, among others. 

Commissioned projects include works for the Science Museum in London and the Seattle Central Public Library in Seattle, Washington, and an installation and performance work for the Coliseum and Temple of Venus and Rome in Italy.  Hill has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller and Guggenheim Foundations, and has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors, most notably the Leone d’Oro Prize for Sculpture at the Venice Biennale (1995), a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship Award (1998), the Kurt-Schwitters-Preis (2000), and an Honorary Degree of Doctor Honoris Causa of The Academy of Fine Arts Poznan, Poland (2005).

JULIAN PRIESTER attended Chicago’s DuSable High School, where he studied under Walter Dyett. In his teens he played with blues and R&B artists such as Muddy Waters, Dinah Washington, and Bo Diddley, and had the opportunity to jam with jazz players like saxophonist Sonny Stitt and Johnny Griffin.

In the early 1950s Priester was a member of Sun Ra’s big band, recording several albums with the group before leaving Chicago in 1956 to tour with Lionel Hampton. In 1958 he settled in New York and joined the band of drummer Max Roach. While playing in Roach’s group Priester also recorded two albums as a leader, ‘‘Keep Swingin’ ‘’ and ‘‘Spiritsville’’ for Riverside Records, both of which came out in 1960.

In 1961 Priester left the Max Roach band, and between 1961 and 1969 appeared as a sideman on albums by Freddie Hubbard, Stanley Turrentine, Blue Mitchell, Art Blakey, Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, Johnny Griffin, and Sam Rivers. During that period he also took part in John Coltrane’s ‘‘Africa/Brass’’ ensemble, which played with Coltrane’s quartet on the album by the same name recorded in 1961. In 1969 he accepted an offer to play with Duke Ellington’s big band, and he stayed with that ensemble for six months before leaving in 1970 to join pianist Herbie Hancock’s jazz fusion sextet.

After leaving the Hancock group in 1973, Priester moved to San Francisco, where he recorded two more albums as a leader: ‘‘Love, Love’’ in 1974 and 1977’s ‘‘Polarization.” In 1979 he joined the faculty of Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, where he teaches jazz composition, performance, and history. In the 1980s he became a member of the Dave Holland quintet and also returned to Sun Ra’s band; the 1990s saw the addition of Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra to his schedule. Priester was recently co-leader with drummer Jimmy Bennington on ‘Portraits and Silhouettes’ which received an Honorable Mention in All About Jazz New York’s ‘Best Recordings of 2007’, which culminated with the two appearing at the 30th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival.

Julian also performs on the album Monoliths & Dimensions by the avant-metal band SUNN O))), released in May 2009.  His major contributions were to the final track of the album, “Alice,” a tribute to Alice Coltrane.

In addition to teaching and touring, Priester continues to record albums under his own name. He released ‘‘Hints on Light and Shadow’’ with Sam Rivers and Tucker Martine in 1997 and followed it up in 2003 with ‘‘In Deep End Dance.’‘

Because most of his career was spent touring and recording with artists of greater renown than himself Priester has not received the attention he perhaps deserves. His musical experience spans to the borders of jazz and beyond, encompassing R&B, bebop, hard bop, and Jazz fusion/progressive and free jazz. 

About Cornish College of the Arts

Cornish College of the Arts is nationally recognized as a premier college of the visual and performing arts offering Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in dance, theater, art, design and performance production, and a Bachelor of Music degree. A pioneer in arts education, Cornish College of the Arts sprang from the remarkable vision of Nellie Cornish, a woman determined to cultivate the arts in Seattle when it was scarcely more than a frontier town. Her philosophy of educating the artist through exposure to all the arts was progressive at the time, and continues to be innovative today.