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Cincinnati Pops Conductor Erich Kunzel to Speak at WC’s Commencement

Wilmington College anticipates conferring a record 408 degrees at its 130th Commencement May 14.

May 5, 2006

Wilmington College anticipates conferring a record 408 degrees at its 130th Commencement May 14.

Erich Kunzel, the long-time conductor of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, will be the guest speaker at the ceremony. Kunzel’s appearance will culminate a yearlong celebration of the arts at WC that was initiated in September with the opening of the $7.6 million Oscar F. Boyd Cultural Arts Center.

Kunzel will receive an honorary doctor of music degree. In addition, honorary doctor of fine arts degrees will be conferred upon internationally renowned wildlife artist John Ruthven and Randy Bolton, a 1966 WC graduate who has distinguished himself with a career in the arts.

The maestro has a 40-year affiliation with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and has led the Cincinnati Pops since its establishment in 1977. The Pops is firmly established as one of the world’s most active classical pops ensembles, maintaining a year-round performing and recording schedule and reaching music lovers worldwide through tour performances, television specials and the best-selling Telarc recordings.

Kunzel’s credits include an unprecedented catalog of 80 Pops recordings on the Telarc label, seven nationally televised Pops specials on PBS, and national and international appearances with the Pops, including 10 Carnegie Hall concerts, two tours of Taiwan, three tours of Japan and an historic tour to China.

Also, Kunzel is the most successful Billboard Classical Crossover recording artist in history. In 1991, Billboard named him the Classical Crossover Artist of the Year for an unprecedented fourth consecutive year.

In addition to his long career in Cincinnati, Kunzel has led more than 100 performances of both the Boston Symphony and Chicago Symphony.

Also, he has led the National Symphony on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol in PBS-TV’s nationally televised Memorial Day and Fourth of July concerts. In 1996, the Fourth of July concert drew a record crowd of nearly a million people to the Capitol and had the largest viewing audience for a musical event in PBS history.

Ruthven, a native of Cincinnati, opened his first commercial art studio 60 years ago following his service in the U.S. Navy in World War II.

He has since become the preeminent wildlife artist in the nation. His works have appeared in museums and galleries from the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History to the Neil Armstrong Space Museum and The White House. Also, Ruthven opened Thompson House Gallery in Georgetown, Ohio, in 1977.

Ruthven also is a noted wildlife conservationist. In 1971, he founded Wildlife Internationale Inc., a publishing company exclusively producing his limited edition lithographs from his originals. The formation of this company also resulted in what has become a long-time relationship with other wildlife conservationists, and millions of dollars have been raised for non-profit conservation organizations through commissioned art projects.

Among his numerous honors, in 2004, Ruthven was awarded the National Medal of Art by the National Endowment for the Arts presented by the President and First Lady of the United States.

Also, Ruthven in 2005 was recognized by the Cincinnati Museum Center with an art show and ceremony recognizing his many years of contributions to the Center. It honored him with the dedication of a permanent gallery in his name.

Bolton has been engaged in a long and impressive career as a teacher, director, actor, scholar, poet, writer and creative innovator since graduating from Wilmington College in 1966 with majors in theatre and English.

He initially took his knowledge of theatre learned from WC’s Hugh G. Heiland and Lew Marcuson to Wilmington High School, where he instructed drama and speech, and built an acclaimed theatre program for three years.

Bolton furthered his education by earning a master’s of art in theatre degree with a focus on Elizabethan and Jacobean drama from the University of Denver and a Ph.D. in theatre from Florida State University School of Theatre, where he studied actor training, directing, and dramatic theory and criticism.

His teaching journey took him to Broomfield High School in Colorado, Dana College in Nebraska, Peru State College in Nebraska, FSU in Tallahassee, Fla., and the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts before joining the faculty at the University of Montana, Missoula, He’s been there since 1978.

At the University of Montana, Bolton is a professor in the Department of Drama/Dance and has responsibility for administration of the theatre and dance training programs, including the professional Montana Repertory Theatre. He serves as director of The Creative Pulse, a graduate program in integrated arts and education.