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Yo-Yo Ma to play at commencement

Published: April 15, 2011
Section: Front Page


Internationally-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma will perform “a five- to 10-minute piece” at this year’s commencement May 22, Andrew Gully, university senior vice president for communications and external affairs, said late Thursday after the commencement honorees were announced this week.

“It just adds a great touch to a day that is already really great,” Gully said of Yo-Yo Ma’s commitment. This will be Brandeis’ 60th commencement ceremony.

Students had started a Facebook group to try to convince Yo-Yo Ma of their wish to see him perform. A similar occurrence happened at the 2010 commencement, when, after the initial announcement of honorees included singer Paul Simon, students wanted and were granted a performance by the soloist at their graduation.

The list of other attendees invited to receive honorary degrees from the university this year includes New York Times columnist David Brooks, who will be the keynote speaker. Brooks, who has one of the most recognized voices in journalism and American political opinion, has written for The Times for more than eight years.

Thomas Buergenthal, a former member of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the U.N. judicial branch, is another. His fellow jurist Judge Nancy Gertner of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, who will retire in September, joins him in receiving a degree.

Award-winning documentary filmmaker Errol Morris will round out the list with Jehuda Reinharz, who was until very recently the university’s president and who received an original Brandeis degree in 1972.

According to a press release on BrandeisNOW, “all members of the Brandeis community are entitled to nominate candidates for honorary degrees. A committee of trustees, faculty and staff narrows the nominations to a list for approval by the board of trustees. The president makes the final selections from that list.”