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Renowned conductor and Jacobs School alumnus Patrick Summers to receive honorary doctorate from Indiana University

Dec. 4, 2017

Patrick Summers

Patrick Summers

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Renowned conductor and Indiana University Jacobs School of Music alumnus Patrick Summers will receive an honorary doctoral degree conferred by IU President Michael A. McRobbie. The degree will be presented during IU’s Winter Commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. on Dec. 16 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington.

Summers was named artistic and music director of Houston Grand Opera in 2011 after having served as the company’s music director since 1998. He has conducted more than 60 operas with the company and has been responsible for many important artistic advances, including the development of the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra, conducting the first Wagner “Des Ring des Nibelungen” cycle in the company’s history, developing many world premieres and advancing the careers of numerous emerging opera stars.

“It is a thrill for the Jacobs School to honor its alumnus in recognition of the many ways in which he influences our field and impacts the cultural life of our country,” said Gwyn Richards, David Henry Jacobs Bicentennial Dean. “His work, vision and passion embody the drive and accomplishment that is a model for all of our students.”

“I am always gratefully aware that I attended IU in a golden era of the school, and so many of those professors of my youth remain at my side in memory every hour of my career,” said Summers. “But it is now so thrilling to see the school continuing to deepen and grow with a new generation of extraordinary faculty, and I am moved beyond any words by this recognition from my beloved and distinguished alma mater.”

Summers conducted the world premiere of Jake Heggie’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” at Houston Grand Opera in December 2016. He was the first to approach Richards about a possible partnership with IU Opera Theater after speaking with Heggie in 2010. IU Opera produced the opera’s collegiate premiere at the Jacobs School of Music in November.

Other highlights of Summers’ work at Houston Grand Opera include conducting the company’s first performance of the Verdi Requiem; collaborating on the world premieres of André Previn’s “Brief Encounter,” Christopher Theofanidis’s “The Refuge,” Heggie’s “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “The End of the Affair” and “Three Decembers,” Carlisle Floyd’s “Cold Sassy Tree” and “Prince of Players” and Tod Machover’s “Resurrection;” and leading the American premiere of Weinberg’s Holocaust opera “The Passenger,” both at Houston and on tour to the Lincoln Center Festival. He has nurtured the careers of such artists as Jamie Barton, Joyce DiDonato, Christine Goerke, Ana María Martínez, Ryan McKinny and Ailyn Pérez, among many others.

From 2001 to 2016, Summers was principal guest conductor for San Francisco Opera, where he was honored in 2015 with the company’s highest honor, the San Francisco Opera Medal. His work with San Francisco includes collaborating with André Previn on the 1998 world premiere of “A Streetcar Named Desire” and conducting several of the performances, as well as conducting Heggie’s “Moby-Dick,” which was recorded and telecast on PBS’s “Great Performances.” His more than 30-year relationship with the company is ongoing. In addition, he is on the faculty of the Aspen Music Festival and School.

In 2002, Summers won a Grammy Award for the album “Bel Canto,” featuring soprano Renée Fleming and the Orchestra of St. Luke's.

An Indiana native, Summers was born in Washington and raised in Loogootee. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music from the Jacobs School of Music in 1986.

Linda Cajigas
Assistant Director of Communications
IU Jacobs School of Music
812-856-3882 |