Convocation and Graduation

Congratulations on your upcoming graduation from the Northwestern University Bienen School of Music! 

Northwestern University's 159th Annual Commencement

graduationFriday, June 16, 2017
9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Ryan Field
1501 Central Street
Evanston, IL 60208

Tickets are required for this university-wide ceremony. Graduates are required to wear regalia for both the commencement and convocation programs.

More information about commencement

Bienen School of Music Convocation

Saturday, June 17, 2017
9:00 a.m. (All graduates should arrive in regalia no later than 8:15 a.m.)
Pick-Staiger Concert Hall

50 Arts Circle Drive
Evanston, IL 60208

Tickets are not required. Convocation typically lasts 75 to 90 minutes and is followed by a reception in the Pick-Staiger lobby. Questions about the convocation ceremony can be directed to the Bienen Student Affairs Office (phone: 847-491-3818, email:

Important Convocation Details for Students

  • Bienen School convocationTo help estimate attendance, we ask that you complete a convocation attendance RSVP, which will be emailed to you by the Student Affairs Office in mid-May.
  • Please let us know in your RSVP if you or your guests require special assistance.
  • The morning of the convocation ceremony, please enter Pick-Staiger through the Box Office entrance and proceed to the rehearsal room. You will be greeted by Bienen School of Music staff who will line you up by degree for procession.
  • Diplomas and a small gift will be presented to each graduating student at the convocation.

Ticket Information

Tickets are not required for the Bienen School convocation ceremony.


GradImages, a professional photography firm, will take a photo of you as you receive your diploma. You may pre-register your contact information with GradImages to receive notification when your proofs are ready.

Doctoral Candidates

DMA and PhD candidates, please invite your committee chairperson to participate in the convocation ceremony. If for some reason your chairperson cannot attend, you may invite an appropriate faculty substitute. At the designated time, you will proceed across the stage carrying your hood over your arm. You will then hand your hood to your committee chairperson, who will place the hood over your head.


Purple gowns custom designed for Northwest­ern are the standard regalia and must be worn by all participating candi­dates. Bachelor’s degree regalia include a souvenir stole. Advanced degree candidates wear hoods. The lining of the Northwestern hood is purple and gold, and the color of the velvet border of the hood indicates the academic area. The Bienen School tassels and hoods are pink. PhD tassels are gold metallic and the hood is dark blue.

Rental arrangements for caps and gowns must be made online by May 19, 2017. PhD candidates may elect to purchase the official Northwestern gown and should contact to make those arrangements.

More information about regalia


Guests may park in the Lakeside Parking Structure (1 Arts Circle Dr). This lot is adjacent to the south end of the Ryan Center for Musical Arts. The South Campus Parking Garage (1847 Campus Dr), attached to the Segal Visitor Center, will also be open for parking on the day of the ceremony.

Guests with impaired mobility may use Arts Circle Drive for drop off in front of Pick-Staiger Concert Hall.

Convocation Speaker: Jake Heggie

Jake Heggie

The Wall Street Journal calls American composer Jake Heggie “arguably the world’s most popular 21st-century opera and art song composer.” His operas Dead Man Walking, Moby-Dick, Great Scott, Three Decembers, To Hell and Back, Out of Darkness, At the Statue of Venus, and The Radio Hour: A Choral Opera have been produced on five continents. Most of these operas were created with the distinguished writers Terrence McNally or Gene Scheer. Heggie is currently at work on If I Were You, a new opera based on the Faustian story by Julian Green, commissioned by the Merola Opera Program for summer of 2019. Heggie has also composed nearly 300 art songs, as well as concerti, chamber music, choral and orchestral works, including the Ahab Symphony.

In 2016, Heggie was awarded the Eddie Medora King Prize by the UT Austin Butler School of Music. He was also the recipient of the Champion Award from the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus in a private concert that featured a performance by the great Patti LuPone. Heggie was the keynote speaker for the 2016 meeting of the National Association of Schools of Music in Dallas. A Guggenheim Fellow, he served for three years as a mentor for Washington National Opera’s American Opera Initiative. He is a frequent guest artist and master teacher at universities and conservatories, including Boston University, Bucknell, Cincinnati Conservatory, Cornell, Eastman, CU Boulder, Northwestern, The Royal Conservatory in Toronto, UNI, UNT, UT Austin, USC’s Thornton School, Vanderbilt University, and at festivals such as SongFest at the Colburn School, Ravinia Festival, and VISI in Vancouver.

Jake Heggie has collaborated as composer and pianist with some of the world’s most loved singers, including sopranos Kiri Te Kanawa, Renée Fleming, Ailyn Pérez, Heidi Stober, Karen Slack, Talise Trevigne, Kristin Clayton, Ann Moss, Caitlin Lynch and Lisa Delan; mezzo-sopranos Joyce DiDonato, Susan Graham, Frederica von Stade, Jamie Barton, Suzanne Mentzer, Joyce Castle, Elise Quagliata, Catherine Cook and Sasha Cooke; Broadway stars Patti LuPone and Audra McDonald; tenors Ben Heppner, William Burden, Stephen Costello, Jay Hunter Morris, Paul Groves and Jonathan Blalock; baritones Keith Phares, Nathan Gunn, Morgan Smith, Rod Gilfry, Bryn Terfel, Michael Mayes and Robert Orth. He has also worked closely with extraordinary instrumentalists such as flutists Carol Wincenc and Lorna McGhee; violinists Leila Josefowicz, Aloysia Friedmann and Dawn Harms; cellists Matt Haimowitz, Emil Miland and Anne Martindale-Williams; pianists Jon Kimura Parker and Gustavo Romero; as well as the Brentano String Quartet and the Alexander String Quartet. Directors who have championed his work include Leonard Foglia, Joe Mantello, Francesca Zambello and Jack O’Brien. All of Heggie’s major opera premieres have been led by Patrick Summers; he has also worked closely with conductors John DeMain, Joseph Mechavich and Nicole Paiement.

Heggie received his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Music degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).