Conferment ceremony traditions at Uniarts Helsinki

Uniarts Helsinki’s conferment ceremony traditions are still young. The first joint conferment ceremony of all the academies was organised in 2018.

Uniarts Helsinki’s joint conferment ceremony traditions

The first joint conferment ceremony of Uniarts Helsinki’s academies was organised for masters and doctors on 8–10 June 2018. The three-day event honoured the academies’ individual traditions, but the goal was also to establish new shared conferment traditions for the university.

 Uniarts Helsinki conferred a total of 136 master’s and doctoral degrees. Professors Eeva Anttila, Anita Seppä and Heidi Westerlund served as conferrers of the degrees. Professor Lauri Suurpää was the chair of the conferment committee, and Suvi Honkanen was the official wreath-weaver.

The conferment festivities were kicked off with a special concert at the Helsinki Music Centre on Friday, 8 June. The Sibelius Academy Chamber Orchestra performed in the concert. The concert’s conductor was alum Jutta Seppinen. The programme also included piano music by Aaron Goldberg, who was conferred an honorary doctorate, and by professor Malla Kuuranne.

The actual conferment ceremony took place on Saturday, 9 June, at the Helsinki Music Centre. The occasion began with the promovendi’s procession to the stage in the Concert Hall, and during the procession, the piece Pilvimusiikkia by Kaija Saariaho was heard. The Sibelius Academy had commissioned a piece from Tapani Länsiö, and it was played as the conferment fanfare. Jari Perkiömäki gave a speech in his role as the rector. During the conferment of degrees, professors Ulrika Ferm, Nils Schweckendiek and Saana Lavaste presented questions to primus masters. Masters Elina Vainio, Jutta Seppinen and Akse Pettersson answered the questions. Professors Mika Elo, Tuija Hakkila and Leena Rouhiainen presented questions to primus doctors. Doctors Tuulikki Laes, Soile Lahdenperä, Kirill Kozlovski and Tarja Pitkänen-Walter answered the questions. Masters received laurel wreaths as their academic insignia, while doctors received doctoral hats in the colour representing their home academy.

After the conferment act, the festivities continued with a traditional procession through the centre of Helsinki to Kunsthalle Helsinki and to the Temppeliaukio Church, depending on whether the promovendi wanted to participate in a non-denominational event or a traditional conferment church service. The evening ended with a conferment dinner and a ball at Finlandia Hall.

The conferment weekend ended on Sunday, 10 June, after an excursion to Lonna Island organised by the Student Union.

Honorary doctorates

In the conferment ceremony 2018, Uniarts Helsinki awarded the title of honorary doctor to 13 persons who have distinguished merits in the arts. Honorary doctorates were conferred on Lisa Batiashvili, Aaron Goldberg, Mary Kelly, Satu Kiljunen, Markus Konttinen, Marjo Kuusela, Ralf Långbacka, Erin Manning, Hanna Nurminen, Lauri Paloheimo, Kaija Saariaho, Derek Scott and Seela Sella.

Uniarts Helsinki’s academy-specific conferment traditions

The conferment traditions of the Academy of Fine Arts, Sibelius Academy and Theatre Academy are still young. The Sibelius Academy was the first of the academies to organise a conferment ceremony: the first conferment ceremony was in 1997 for masters and doctors, the second in 2003 and the third in 2012. The Academy of Fine Arts arranged a conferment ceremony in 2006, while the Theatre Academy had one in 2009. Uniarts Helsinki organised its first joint conferment ceremony for all academies in 2018. Uniarts Helsinki will have to wait for the conferment of jubilee masters until 2047.

First conferment ceremony of the Sibelius Academy

The Sibelius Academy organised its first-ever traditional conferment festivities from 31 May to 1 June 1997. Preparations for the festivities were started in good time. The academy commissioned special conferment textiles for the event, and Masters of Music were given a commissioned silver flute mouthpiece designed by Pekka Karahka instead of a wreath. Finlandia Hall was selected as the venue for the ceremony.

The press was informed of the event, the honorary doctors and other interesting details early on. The event did, in fact, end up receiving a lot of coverage in newspapers.

The three-day conferment festivities took place from Friday to Sunday on 30 May – 1 June 1997. Cellist Arto Noras served as the conferrer. Erik T. Tawastjerna was the head marshal, and Reijo Pajamo was the master of ceremonies. There were two primus doctors: Matti Raekallio (artistic orientation) and Marcus Castrén (academic orientation).

The Sibelius Academy’s conferment festivities were kicked off with a rector’s reception and a conferment concert on 30 May 1997 at Finlandia Hall. The symphony orchestra and the conferment choir of the Sibelius Academy were conducted by Eri Klas and Atso Almila. Kyinen pelto, a piece commissioned by the Sibelius Academy, was performed for the first time in public in the concert.

The actual conferment ceremony took place on the following day on 31 May, starting at 10:00 at Finlandia Hall. Kaija Saariaho’s Pilvimusiikkia was played as the music for the procession. Acting Professor Mikael Helasvuo presented a question for the masters, and it was answered by Anna-Maija Korsimaa. After this, about 270 master’s promovendi were conferred in alphabetical order one degree programme after another, with the prima master as the first conferred graduate and the ultima master as the last conferred graduate. The masters were given a flute mouthpiece as their academic insignia.

Besides masters, a total of 16 doctors were also conferred their degrees. Professor Liisa Pohjola presented a question to the primus doctor with artistic orientation, who answered with piano music; Professor Ilkka Oramo presented a question to the primus doctor with academic orientation, who answered with a speech. After this, doctors received their academic insignia, namely a symbolic sash and a doctoral hat in electric blue colour. The cockade on the hat was designed by Zoltan Popovits.

There were 12 honorary doctors, six of whom were non-Finns with outstanding merits in the field of music. Among the honorary doctors were Vladimir Ashkenazy, Kim Borg, Fabian Dahlström and Birgit Nilsson. During the conferment act, the attendees got to experience the first performance of a cantata, composed by composer Erik Bergman by commission of the Sibelius Academy.

The conferment church service was held in the Temppeliaukio Church, and the conferment dinner and ball took place at Finlandia Hall starting from 19:00. The event’s programme included a lot of speeches: a welcoming speech, a speech for the Sibelius Academy, a speech for the honorary doctors, a speech for the new masters and doctors and the response address by masters and doctors, and a speech for the Swan. Master of Music Lea Ryynänen, in her role as the gratista and a representative of the promovendi, presented the invitation to dance. The promovendi had practised traditional dances the entire spring term under the tutelage of Inkeri Simola-Isakson.

The conferment festivities were wrapped up after an informal excursion to the Sibelius Academy’s Kallio-Kuninkala course centre. During the excursion, the participants heard a speech to honour the excursion as well as a speech by the official wreath-weaver.

First conferment ceremony of the Academy of Fine Arts

The Academy of Fine Arts organised its first conferment ceremony at the Ateneum Art Museum on 12 June 2006. The Ateneum building used to house the Finnish Art Society’s Drawing School and the Finnish Art Academy School until 1984. To honour its first conferment ceremony, the academy had commissioned a piece of spatial art by Jan-Erik Anderson to be displayed in connection with the conferment ceremony. There were two conferrers of degrees – one for the conferment of master’s degrees and the other for the conferment of doctoral degrees.

Aino Kaila, a philosophy student, was the official wreath-weaver. Professor Antti Tanttu served as the master of ceremonies, and visual artist Ilkka-Juhani Takalo Eskola was the head marshal. There were 15 assisting marshals in total.

A total of 153 masters were conferred. The conferred promovendi were visual artists who had received a graduation certificate from the Finnish Art Academy School or the Academy of Fine Arts or had completed a degree or a master’s degree at the Academy of Fine Arts.

The first to be conferred was prima master Kukka Paavilainen, who had presented her answer to vice rector Markus Konttinen, who conferred the master’s degrees and presented the conferrer’s question. After this, Doctor of Philosophy, printmaker and former rector of the Academy of Fine Arts Outi Heiskanen was conferred an honorary doctor. Then it was time to confer other master’s degrees in alphabetical order. The master’s promovendi placed laurel wreaths on their heads as their academic insignia.

Professor Riikka Stewen served as the conferrer of doctoral degrees, and primus doctor Jyrki Siukonen answered her question presented to doctors. After this, the conferrer invited the doctors and honorary doctors in fine arts by their last name in alphabetical order to receive their academic insignia: a hat, a sword and a certificate. The colour of the doctoral hat at the Academy of Fine Arts is Pompeian red.

Four Doctors of Fine Arts were conferred in the ceremony: Jyrki Siukonen, Jan Kaila, Teemu Mäki and Jan-Kenneth Weckman. There were five honorary doctors: Lauri Anttila, Tuula Arkio, Pentti Kaskipuro, Laila Pullinen and Jaakko Sievänen.

The conferment dinner took place in the restaurant Pörssi.

First conferment ceremony of the Theatre Academy

The Theatre Academy organised its first conferment ceremony for doctors on 2 October 2009. The day was the 166th birthday of Kaarlo Bergbom, a Finnish theatre manager and the founder of the Finnish Theatre. The Finnish Theatre evolved into the first professional Finnish-speaking theatre in Finland, later renamed the Finnish National Theatre. The Theatre Academy started its operations in 1979, so the year 2009 also marked its 30th anniversary.

The actual conferment act took place on the Small Stage of the Finnish National Theatre, where 17 Theatre Academy graduates were conferred their Doctor of Arts (Dance) or Doctor of Arts (Theatre and Drama) degrees, and six honorary doctors were also celebrated. The conferment ceremony only included doctors, and no master’s degrees were conferred. Kati Outinen was the head marshal. Vesa Vierikko served as the master of ceremonies, and Soili Hämäläinen was the gratista. A conferment publication was compiled to celebrate the event, and it documents the speeches given during the ceremony as well as the merits of the selected honorary doctors and the doctoral promovendi in the field of theatre and dance.

The Theatre Academy followed most of the old traditions in its conferment festivities, but made some updates to the conventions. The actual ceremony began at 12:00 and followed the traditional conferment protocol. After a speech by Rector of the Theatre Academy Paula Tuovinen, conferrer Pentti Paavolainen gave his own speech and presented a question in the role of conferrer. Prima Doctor Annette Arlander answered the question. In the conferment act, honorary doctorates were first conferred on the selected individuals, then the doctorates were conferred on the doctoral promovendi.

In the 2009 conferment ceremony at the Theatre Academy, an honorary doctorate in theatre was conferred on President of the Republic Tarja Halonen, theatre director and professor Kaisa Korhonen, theatre director and writer Jouko Turkka and professor Juha Varto and lighting and sound designer Ilkka Volanen. American choreographer Deborah Hay received the only honorary doctorate in the field of dance.

17 doctors were conferred in the ceremony: Annette Arlander, Eeva Anttila, Elisabeth Fisher, Pia Houni, Soili Hämäläinen, Timo Kallinen, Helka-Maria Kinnunen, Teija Löytönen, Jukka O. Miettinen, Kirsi Monni, Leena Rouhiainen, Riitta Pasanen-Willberg, Maaria Rantanen, Soile Rusanen, Erik Rynell, Paula Salosaari and Tapio Toivanen. They received a doctoral hat in the Theatre Academy’s colour, which is plum, as their academic insignia as well as a diploma – swords were not given to the doctoral promovendi of the Theatre Academy. The conferment lyre that was part of the hat had been designed by sculptor Martti Aiha. The first conferment festivities of the Theatre Academy did not include a church service, and instead, the procession led to the Theatre Academy, where celebrations continued with dance and other programme. During the conferment dinner, the participants listened to a speech made in honour of art.