Where did you get that hat? Doctoral awards in Finland

Professor Derek B. Scott has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki.

Out of 13 awards, three musicians were selected: the jazz performer Aaron Goldberg, the composer Kaija Saariaho, and University of Leeds musicologist, Professor Derek Scott.

In Finland, special doctoral hats are handmade to fit the head of the person receiving the award. They are similar to top hats, and have different colours for music, drama, and art.

After the conferment ceremony, Derek was invited to join a procession to a celebratory service at the rock church close to the academy. Intrigued, he joined in the procession, which was applauded by cheering onlookers. The church turned out not to be a ‘rock music church’, as he had first imagined, but a church carved into solid rock. In the evening, there was a conferment dinner, followed by social dancing. It was announced that it was to begin with a polonaise, and all honorary doctors were expected to participate.

Derek confesses that he ‘laughed his head off’, until he realised it was not a joke. He adds, ‘I managed to find someone who knew as little of dancing the polonaise as I did, and we learned the steps during the many repeats of the melody. However, I am now of the strong belief that we should make this dance compulsory for all School of Music students who attain doctorates!’

Congratulations to Derek and we are pleased to hear he got to keep his hat!