In the Loop
General News : May 31, 2017

Composer Libby Larsen presented with honorary doctorate from School of Music

By Macey Wilson

Libby Larsen, one of America’s most performed living composers, received an honorary doctorate from the UF School of Music on April 28, 2017 at the UF doctoral commencement ceremony.

“To be in permanent association by a revered University such as the University of Florida through receiving an honorary doctorate is an extraordinary honor,” Larsen said.

Paul Richards, professor of music composition and one of the UF School of Music professors who nominated Larsen for the honorary doctorate, said that Larsen’s past three day visit to the campus in 2006 had a huge impact on faculty and students.

“Her works are invariably engaging, inventive and thoroughly well-made; they tug equally at the heart and the head,” Richards said. “It's emotional and intellectual in equal measures.”

Larsen, who began composing music in 6th grade, spoke at the ceremony about her works and the state of contemporary music.

“It was one of the most engaging discussions I've seen in my time at UF,” Richards said.

Larsen already holds a PhD in Theory and Composition from the University of Minnesota. She is also the recipient of a 1993 Grammy, a 2010 George Peabody Medal and was inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame in 2007.

“She is one of the leading composers of her generation,” Richards said.

A reception at the President's house was held after the ceremony. While at the reception, UF Assistant Professor of Music and Assistant Director of Bands, Chip Birkner, was also honored for his commencement address to the doctoral graduates.

“Libby said it best at the dinner when she said that being with the music faculty was like being with family,” Richards said. “Hopefully we'll find a way to have her visit campus again soon.”

Learn more about Libby Larsen at