Joyce DiDonato Awarded Honorary RIAM Fellowship

Joyce DiDonato at the Awards Ceremony in London (photo: Frances Marshall)

Joyce DiDonato Awarded Honorary RIAM Fellowship

Singer with Irish heritage recognised for her outstanding contribution to the arts at a ceremony in London.

American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato was awarded the Fellowship Honoris Causa by the Royal Irish Academy of Music at a ceremony in London last night (4 September 2018).

(L-R) Fiachra Garvey, Gavan Ring, Joyce DiDonato, Rachel Kelly and RIAM Chairman, Dennis Jennings. Photo: Frances Marshall 

The award recognises the singer’s career, technical and musical mastery, and extraordinary contribution to the arts. Speaking of the award, DiDonato said

It’s difficult to express how deeply touched I am by this extraordinary gesture from the Royal Irish Academy of Music. Of course, while I recognize the historical significance of such an honour, I’m afraid the overwhelming response is the wish that my parents could have been present to share this event with me. They passed on a fierce pride in our Irish heritage to all seven of us Flaherty children, and I can only imagine how their Irish eyes are smiling and beaming today. My gratitude is profound.

DiDonato is one of only 58 people since the RIAM was established in 1848 to have been presented the honorary fellowship, the Academy’s highest accolade. Other recipients include Oliver Messiaen, Sir James Galway and Ann Murray DBE

Joyce DiDonato and Rachel Kelly. Photo: Frances Marshall

Speaking at the ceremony, RIAM Director Deborah Kelleher acknowledged DiDonato’s Irish connection:

One of the ways in which we at the RIAM are refreshed, inspired and challenged is to look outside ourselves and at any moment in time, find out what is the best in the world in music performance. 

By honouring her with the Fellowship Honoris Causa, we form a link to an artist who will be remembered forever. RIAM’s history is Ms DiDonato’s history – we opened our doors as her ancestors were leaving Ireland in the 19th century and we welcome her back today, so that the national conservatoire in the country of her ancestors might be inspired by who she is and what she has achieved, to reach ever higher, ever better.

Deborah Kelleher, Director of the RIAM, and Joyce DiDonato. Photo: Frances Marshall

Born Joyce Flaherty in Kansas to an Irish-American family, DiDonato is acknowledged as one of the foremost singers of our time. Earlier this year, she was given the Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera with Daniela Barcellona for their performance of Rossini’s Semiramide at the Royal Opera House.

For more about the RIAM, visit

Published on 5 September 2018


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