For a decades-long career of artistic genius and his dedication to inspiring and mentoring the next generation of operatic artists, Plácido Domingo was awarded the UCLA Medal in ceremonies at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music on Nov. 12.
It was a delightfully busy afternoon for the renowned opera singer, conductor, National Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and winner of 12 Grammy awards. Following an award presentation by UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, the maestro conducted a master class for four young singers — two UCLA graduate students and two from the Domingo–Colburn–Stein Young Artist Program, which Domingo created.
In presenting the honor, Block saluted Domingo’s accomplishments as an artist and his decades of advancing opera and music education in Los Angeles and around the world — as well as his contributions to society beyond the arts. Domingo has personally mentored hundreds of young talents in youth training programs he has established and supported in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Spain.
“These programs can change the lives of emerging artists. They also allow Maestro Domingo to tend to the future of his art form, to help preserve its cultural heritage and help pass it on to future generations,” Block said.
During his brief remarks, Block praised Domingo for also raising funds for earthquake and hurricane relief in Mexico, Puerto Rico, El Salvador and Louisiana, and he reminded the 500-plus in attendance at Schoenberg Hall that in 1994 Domingo was an adjunct professor at UCLA.
“While at UCLA, he led a series of choral and orchestral master classes with music students and voice majors,” Block said. “And of course, Maestro, if you would like to return to that position, I might be able to pull some strings.”
During the 90-minute master class, Domingo offered one-on-one instruction to two UCLA graduate students, soprano Vanessa Martucci and tenor Eric Levintow, and to two singers who appeared in cooperation with the L.A. Opera Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program: tenor Brian Michael Moore and mezzo-soprano Taylor Raven.
The UCLA Medal was established in 1979 and is the highest honor bestowed upon an individual by UCLA. It is awarded to those who have earned academic and professional acclaim, and whose work demonstrates the highest ideals of UCLA. Past recipients include music luminaries Ella Fitzgerald, Henry Mancini, Herb Alpert and Quincy Jones, as well as writer Toni Morrison, President Bill Clinton, architect I.M. Pei, UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun and UCLA alumna and astronaut Anna Lee Fisher.