The event was the university’s first in-person graduation ceremony since 2019 due to COVID-related cancellations.
Speaking about his collaborations with Taylor Swift in 2020, Dessner told the crowd: “Making this music became a life raft in the middle of the pandemic. In April 2020, Taylor Swift texted me out of the blue one night when I was sitting at dinner. At first I thought it was a friend joking,” he told the crowd, before revealing how the collaboration progressed from there.
“Had i not been making music for music’s sake, just deeply engaged in the process not thinking what it was for, I don’t think any of this would have happened. The thought I want to leave you with is to embrace those moments of getting lost in your work, making your work simply for the joy and emotional outlet of it, and working diligently, passionately, and courageously.”
Watch his speech below.
Taylor Swift herself also became an honorary doctor this week, also delivering a commencement address for New York University’s class of 2022.
“I’m 90% sure the reason I’m here is because I have a song called ’22’,” Swift joked, adding: “Last time I was in a stadium this size, I was dancing in heels and wearing a glittery leotard. This outfit is much more comfortable.”
The speech was full of references to her hit songs, as well as jokes about her doctorate. At one point she addressed out-of-town relatives and friends of the graduates with “Let me say to you now: Welcome to New York – it’s been waiting for you.”
Elsewhere, The Harlem Cultural Festival – the setting of Questlove’s decorated documentary Summer Of Soul – will be revived and reimagined as the Harlem Festival of Culture in 2023.