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Phillip McCann honoured by University of Huddersfield

Monday 25 November, 2019

Phillip McCann has spoken of his pride and delight after he was conferred with the award of Honorary Doctorate of the University of Huddersfield. 

The conductor, educator and cornet legend was presented with the award at the institution’s graduation ceremony by vice chancellor Professor Bob Cryan CBE, while the oration was delivered by friend and colleague, Dr Simon Lindley. 

Commenting on receipt of the honorary doctorate, the newly conferred Dr McCann said: “I have been humbled and delighted by the whole experience, not least because there are very few such conferrals on musicians made by the university. Dr Gordon Stewart, for over a quarter of a century borough organist for Kirklees at Huddersfield Town Hall is one such, and the choral conductor Dr Simon Lindley, formerly at Leeds Town Hall and Leeds Minster, is another.  

“This whole experience made me cast my mind back to when, as a seven-year-old, I was watching the local band (Kinneil) marching in the street, standing on a pavement in my home town of Bo’ness holding my grandfather’s hand. There was a spark which ignited the desire to play a musical instrument which has led to performing in some of the world’s greatest stages, from Sydney Opera House to London’s Royal Albert Hall.  

“I am truly humbled to receive this wonderful accolade; I still and always will see myself as just a cornet player from Bo’ness.” 

The award is deserved recognition for the Scottish musician, who served at the University of Huddersfield for around 30 years, including a period as head of brass and woodwind. During that time, he played a major role in developing the brass band and wind orchestra into cornerstones of the music department.

Many of Phillip’s former students have gone on to enjoy significant roles in the brass band community as performers, conductors, composers and arrangers. 

Phillip continued: “It gives me such emotional reward and pride to see so many of my students on our brass band stages as conductors, composers, arrangers and instrumentalists. I have tried my best to encourage them to always believe in themselves - they are our future. 

“In my own teaching, I have always encouraged students to use their imagination, on the basis that if you don’t imagine something in the first instance you won’t be able to achieve it. Personally, I have benefitted hugely from the encouraging and supportive friendships of colleagues as well as students."

Stewart Worthy, subject area leader for music and music technology at the University of Huddersfield, said: "It was an honour for us to bestow this award to Phillip and be part of the day along with his guests and other staff from the music department.

"Phillip gave a short speech and in it reminded everyone that the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary, part of his ethos that has no doubt allowed many of our previous students, under his tutoring, to reach their full potential."