Honorary Degrees November 2019

Gary Hughes

Conductor Harry Christophers and Head of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas) Ann Furedi are among those due to receive an honorary degree from the University in November.

Choreographer Anthony van Laast and artist and stage designer Es Devlin are also set to be honoured by the University at ceremonies in Canterbury and Rochester cathedrals.

Harry Christophers will be made an Honorary Doctor of Music at a ceremony in Canterbury Cathedral on Friday 22 November.

Born in Goudhurst, Kent, he is founder and conductor of The Sixteen, one of the world’s most renowned choirs. Alongside his commitments with The Sixteen, Harry Christophers has served as Artistic Director of the Handel and Haydn Society since 2008. His guest conducting engagements include the London Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, the Deutsches Kammerphilharmonie and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. He has been Principal Guest Conductor of the City of Granada Orchestra since 2008. His conducting credits also include extensive work in opera, including productions for English National Opera, Lisbon Opera and Buxton and Grange Festivals. He recently collaborated with BBC Radio 3 presenter Sara Mohr-Pietsch on a book to celebrate The Sixteen’s 40th anniversary: A New Heaven: Choral Conversations.

He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s 2012 Birthday Honours for his services to music.

Harry Christophers

Ann Furedi will be made an Honorary Doctor of Science (Social Sciences) at a ceremony in Canterbury Cathedral on 22 November.

Born in Wolverhampton, she is an alumna of the University of Kent, having graduated with a BA Honours in English & Sociology. Since graduating she has worked as a campaign officer at the National Council for Civil Liberties (now Liberty), been a journalist, ran the press office for the Family Planning Association and, later, press and policy at the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.

She has been Chief Executive Officer at the charity bpas, a provider of and advocate for abortion, since 2003. Known as an outspoken advocate for women’s reproductive choice, she is often heard on radio and TV arguing for the decriminalisation of abortion. Her experience at bpas, and her interest in philosophy, informed The Moral Case for Abortion, published in 2016, which was used extensively by advocates for reform in the successful campaign to legalise abortion in the Republic of Ireland.

She served as Vice-Chair of Governor of Mid Kent College Board of Governors from 2012-2016 and Chair from 2016-2018, and has been the UK representative to the Board of the International Federation of Family Planning Professionals since 2016.

In 2017, she received the Felicia Steward Award for Preserving Core Values in Science from the American Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, in recognition of ‘outstanding work in reproductive health policy and advocacy’.

Ann Furedi

On Wednesday 20 November, Anthony van Laast and Es Devlin will both be made an Honorary Doctor of Arts at ceremonies in Rochester Cathedral.

A celebrated artist and stage designer, Es Devlin has pioneered an artistically and technically ambitious methodology to her practice which bridges the gap between audience and performance, often using surface, light, projection and reflection to create dramatic and ambiguous spatial and psychological environments.

Her major public installations have included Please Feed the Lions, a fluorescent red fifth lion sculpture which roared poetry powered by artificial intelligence (Trafalgar Square, 2018); The Singing Tree, a collective choral installation which merged machine-learning with sound and light (V&A, 2017); and Mirror Maze (Copeland Park, Peckham, 2016) and ROOM 2022 (Miami Art Basel, 2017) which both explored reflective labyrinthine narratives and geometries.

She has designed stage sets for Beyoncé, U2, Adele and The Weeknd, and her recent work in theatre includes The Lehman Trilogy (National Theatre 2018-19) and The Hunt (Almeida, 2019).

In September 2019, she unveiled a new commission – Memory Palace – at the Pitzhanger (London), an 18-metre-wide sculptural work, filling the gallery space with a vast chronological landscape mapping pivotal shifts in human perspective over seventy five millennia.

She has been named artistic director of the 2020 London Design Biennale and is designing the UK pavilion at The World Expo 2020. Her practice was also the subject of the Netflix documentary series Abstract: The Art of Design, and she recently spoke at TED2019 on sculpting music, transience and technology.

Es Devlin

The internationally acclaimed choreographer Anthony van Laast was born in Sussex. He trained at the London School of Contemporary Dance, later joining the company as both performer and choreographer.

His extensive theatre credits include:  Tina The Musical; Mamma Mia!; Sister Act; Side Show; Hair; Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Song and Dance; Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat; Bombay Dreams; and Candide.

His film work includes: Beauty and the Beast; Mamma Mia! Here we Go Again; Mamma Mia!; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1; Never Say Never Again; Excalibur; and Hope and Glory.

In 2012 he created the Peggy Hawkins Scholarship Fund at The Place to provide students with funding to complete their studies and achieve their goals.

In 1999 he was awarded the MBE for services to dance and choreography, and in 2018 he was awarded the CBE for services to dance and choreography.

Anthony van Laast