Celebrating 2023 Commencement

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Undergraduate speaker Yeremiya Wright and keynote speaker Martha Gonzalez '99 at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music Commencement Celebration on June 16, 2023. (Photo by Juan Tallo)

There were over seventy commencement ceremonies at UCLA this year, each celebrating worthy graduates. But you’ll forgive us if we say that The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music’s 2023 commencement celebration was truly special.

Photos by Juan Tallo

The Procession

Every commencement begins with the procession of candidates for graduation, the faculty, and administration.

But at the School of Music, the processional march is accompanied by live music. The UCLA West African Drum Ensemble and the UCLA Commencement Brass announced the arrival of the candidates for graduation, preceded by faculty and invited speakers. The accomplished ensembles included both continuing and graduating students.

The Speakers

The distinguished 2023 commencement speaker was MacArthur Fellow Martha Gonzalez. An alumna of UCLA’s School of Music with a degree in ethnomusicology, Martha outlined a bold vision of community-based music as a liberating force. Inaugural Dean Eileen Strempel addressed the audience about the vital role of the artist in an age of artificial intelligence. This year’s student speakers were master’s trumpet performance student Emma Breen and undergraduate ethnomusicology student Yeremiya (Yerry) Wright.

The Live Music

No commencement would be complete without a singing of the alma mater. But at the School of Music, graduating voice students delivered a resounding rendition. There was also the musical interlude, a performance of John Coltrane’s “Equinox” by the All-School Ensemble. And then, finally, the recessional, accompanied by Mariachi Uclatlán.