The Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg enjoys university status, including degree awarding power at the PhD level. Next to their collaboration with the University of Strasbourg and the Haute école des arts du Rhin, offering a Ph.D in artistic research, the Hochschule has its own “artistic-scientific” Dr. phil. (See here.)
This university status also means that the Hochschule can appoint a doctor honoris causa. On June 15, they have awarded their first to Peter Dejans, director of the Belgian Orpheus Instituut.
Dr.h.c. Peter Dejans
Peter Dejans became director of the Orpheus Instituut in 1996. "With his exceptional artistic and scientific skills, his entrepreneurial spirit, his high standards of quality and his perseverance, he has turned the institute into a world-renowned centre of higher education. For his brilliant and visionary work, the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg is now awarding him the title of doctor honoris causa."
The official ceremony took place in the Wolfgang Hoffmann Saal at the Hochschule, and included a concert (performed by doctoral students of the above mentioned joint program), the laudatio (by the rector of the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg, Prof. Dr. Ludwig Holtmeier) and a round table discussion on the topic "Perspectives of artistic research”.
There seems to be no report on the round table, but I can think of a few perspectives on this very event that are noteworthy. Beyond the qualities of dr.h.c. Dejans, it is the Orpheus Instituut that is implicitly being given credit as well. Even if Dejans - a conductor - never considered himself an artistic researcher, it is nevertheless thanks to his efforts that the institute has spearheaded the artistic research movement and its history. The institute was the first to start a postdoc artistic research group (ORCiM), to initiate the concept of an Artistic Research Festival (since then followed by many), and has seen some 50 musicians obtain a PhD in artistic research through its docARTES program.
From the widest perspective, the symbolic value of this event can hardly be overestimated: it is the first AR honorary doctorate in the world, and it emphasizes Freiburg's choice of the PhD path. While some other institutes in Germany are still undecided about whether to offer a research or a performance degree, Freiburg has made a very clear statement.