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CSUB to honor John Farrer with honorary Doctor of Fine Arts
April 21, 2014
CSU Bakersfield today announced that it will award its highest honor to John Farrer, Music Director of the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra. Farrer will receive only the second Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts to be awarded by the university, the first having gone to Merle Haggard in 2013. The honorary degree will be conferred during the spring commencement ceremony on Friday, June 13th at 7am at the CSUB Amphitheater.
“John Farrer’s contribution to the arts and education in Kern County is undeniable and far reaching. CSUB strives to produce excellence, and Mr. Farrer represents the very excellence we work to develop in all our students,” stated CSUB President Horace Mitchell. “His outstanding body of work, coupled with the mark he has made on our community, makes him a clear choice for this esteemed honor.”
Farrer arrived in Bakersfield in 1970 when he took a guest conductor position with the Bakersfield Symphony. Just five short years later he became the Music Director and has served the community in that position for 38 years. In that time, Maestro Farrer has conducted over 400 works on the Orchestra’s subscription programs and has collaborated with some of the world’s finest soloists. Today, he is a world-renowned guest conductor having conducted special programs for royalty, including the Duchess of Cornwall.
“Mr. Farrer has made a lasting impact not only in the musical landscape of this region, but also in the educational landscape by actively participating in the musical education of countless people in this community and around the world,” continued Mitchell.
One purpose of the honorary doctorate is “to recognize excellence and extraordinary achievement in significant areas of human endeavor, within which are embodied the objectives and ideals of the California State University.” Farrer’s accolades are many. To begin, they include ten seasons as Music Director with the Santa Maria Philharmonic. He was associated with the San Francisco Symphony as cover conductor for the orchestra's subscription concerts. Farrer has been a frequent speaker in the San Francisco Symphony's series of Inside Music talks, and he has led the Orchestra in Concerts for Kids, and in a concert in the Stern Grove, which attracted 20,000 listeners. He is the Founder and Director of the California Conducting Institute and the London Conducting Workshop at the Royal College of Music. These two programs attract conductors from all over the world. He also is a member of the Los Angeles Young Musicians Foundation Music Advisory Board.
Another purpose of the honorary doctorate is “to recognize men and women whose lives and significant achievements should serve as examples of the California State University’s aspirations for its diverse student body.” Farrer has been the Music Director of the Roswell Symphony Orchestra for 40 years during its musical seasons, where he received the Governor’s Award for Excellence and Achievement, New Mexico’s highest arts honor. In 2003 he was nominated and appointed by Senators Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman as one of the Trustees of the National Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
As provided in the National Trustees’ information statement from the National Symphony Orchestra Development Office, “Trustees are prominent persons from throughout the United States and from several countries around the world. They are accomplished leaders in civic, cultural and philanthropic enterprise as well as in their chosen professions and careers. Trustees serve as valued counselors and patrons of the NSO and as advocates in Washington, as well as in their home states, communities and countries, for the causes of symphonic music, of the performing arts and of music and arts education.”“Recognition of Mr. Farrer’s artistic achievements is especially appropriate for the CSU system in light of his championing education and fine arts,” commented Mitchell.
Awarding Farrer the honorary doctorate has the full support of the University administration and is made with the support of CSUB faculty, represented by the Academic Senate Executive Committee.