Pianist John O’Conor and author Colum McCann honoured by DIT

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18th February, 2012:  Award winning author, Colum McCann and acclaimed Irish pianist, John O’Conor were today conferred with Honorary Doctorates from Dublin Institute of Technology at the DIT Spring Graduation.  The ceremony took place in St. Patrick's Cathedral, which was filled to capacity with hundreds of graduates  with their parents and friends.

The two recipients were chosen by DIT to receive an honorary doctorate for their outstanding achievements and their contribution to the arts.  In his address the President of DIT, Professor Brian Norton, said “The citations we heard earlier gave us a brief snapshot of two remarkable people, whose contributions to the arts have enriched our lives and have drawn the attention of the world to the richness of music and literature for which Ireland is so justly recognised.  For DIT as a teaching institution, it is particularly appropriate that Dr. O’Conor and Dr. McCann are committed to developing and nurturing the talent of the next generation of musicians and writers, and give so generously of their time to their respective students.  We are delighted that you,  and your families, have joined us here today to accept this Award and to be conferred in the company of our graduates and their families.”

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Professor Brian Norton, President of DIT, presents the parchment to Dr. John O’Conor in St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Distinguished Irish musician John O’Conor was selected by DIT to receive an honorary doctorate in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the world of music performance and music education.  The citation, read by Dr. Michael Mulvey, described him as a former student, who also taught at the DIT Conservatory of Music & Drama.  “John O'Conor is a classical pianist of international renown, a prolific recording artist; and a master teacher of young musical talent.”  Frequently cited as the greatest living interpreter of the piano music of Beethoven, Dr. O’Conor is currently Professor of Piano at RIAM, and holds the position of Visiting Professor in Showa University of Music in Japan.  He is also Professor of Piano, and Distinguished Artist in Residence, at the Conservatory in Shenandoah University, West Virginia.  A co-founder of the Dublin International Piano Competition, he is  Chairman of the Jury for the competition which has been running since 1988.

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Mr. Sean McCann congratulates his son Dr. Colum McCann on his conferring with the award of Honorary Doctorate

Colum McCann studied journalism in the former College of Commerce in Rathmines, now DIT.  Reading the citation Dr. Noel O’Connor said “Colum McCann is a journalist who became a novelist, a proud Dubliner who is equally proud to be an Irish New Yorker, an inspiring teacher of creative writing who believes it is something that cannot be taught.  Most of all, he is both a lover of stories and a consummate storyteller.”   In thrall to newspapers from a young age, McCann had his own column and byline in the Evening Press by the age of 21, but emigrated to the US in the 1980’s at the start of ‘an adventure that continues to this day’.  Colum McCann is the internationally acclaimed author of the novels Zoli, Dancer, This Side of Brightness, Songdogs, as well as Let the Great World Spin, for which he won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 2011.  A member of Aosdána, his work  has been published in thirty languages, and he has received a number of other literary awards including the National Book Award, the Ambassador Book Award, and the award of Legion d’Honneur by the French government. 

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Dr. O’Conor was accompanied at the ceremony by his wife Mary and their son, the actor Hugh O’Conor.  His brother Frank O’Conor, and his wife Anne, Ms Ann Fuller of the Dublin International Piano Competition, and Ms Ciara Higgins, Artistic Director of the Festival in Great Irish Houses  were also among the guests.  Dr. Colum McCann, who had travelled from New York the previous day,  was accompanied by his wife Allison Hawke and their three children, by his mother Sally, and by his father Sean McCann, the former features editor of the Evening Press.

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Honorary Professors lead the Academic procession into St. Patrick’s Cathedral for the conferring

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Get me to the Cathedral! Graduates of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Mary Horan, Warren Deacon, Orla McCann and John Quinn racing to their Graduation Ceremony in St. Patrick’s Cathedral

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