Tom Kitt CC’96, a Pulitzer Prize-, Tony-, Emmy- and Grammy Award-winning composer, arranger, orchestrator and music supervisor for stage, film and television, will deliver the keynote speech for Columbia College’s Class Day on Tuesday, May 17.
Rita Pietropinto ’93, SOA’96
Class Day, the College’s ceremony to honor the achievements of the graduating class, is being held in person for the first time in two years. Kitt replaces Dr. George D. Yancopoulos CC’80, GSAS’86, VPS’87, who respectfully stepped down as Class Day speaker on April 4.
Kitt, in collaboration with Brian Yorkey CC’93, received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and two 2009 Tony Awards for the Broadway musical Next to Normal. He was nominated for Tony Awards three additional times: in 2014 (Best Original Score for If/Then), 2018 (Best Orchestrations for Spongebob Squarepants: The Broadway Musical) and 2020 (Best Orchestrations for Jagged Little Pill). Kitt has been nominated for Drama Desk Awards eight times, and won in 2020 for Outstanding Orchestrations for Jagged Little Pill. He was nominated three times for Outer Critics Circle Awards and won once, for Spongebob Squarepants. He won the 2021 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album for Jagged Little Pill, and an Emmy (as co-writer with Lin-Manuel Miranda) for the 2013 Tony Awards opening number, “Bigger.”
In addition to those works, Kitt is the composer of High Fidelity (Broadway), Bring It On, The Musical (Broadway), Disney’s Freaky Friday, The Winter’s Tale, All’s Well That Ends Well and Cymbeline (The Public’s New York Shakespeare Festival), From Up Here and The Madrid (Manhattan Theater Club), Orphans (Broadway), The Retributionists (Playwrights Horizons) and As You Like It (Toho Co., Japan). He was the music supervisor for the NBC drama Rise and was responsible for the music supervision, arrangements and orchestrations for the 2016 Fox broadcast Grease Live! and Green Day’s American Idiot on Broadway.
Kitt was a member of the Kingsmen and collaborated with Yorkey to write the scores for the 100th and 102nd Varsity Shows. In 2008, the Varsity Show honored him with the annual I.A.L Diamond Award for Excellence in the Arts. He was presented an Alumni Medal of Excellence at Commencement in 2012, and was honored with a John Jay Award for distinguished professional achievement in 2019.
“I am honored to have been asked to speak at this year's Columbia College Class Day and I am deeply grateful to the students and administration for inviting me to participate in this very special occasion — the first gathering for in-person commencement since 2019,” said Kitt. “As someone whose life was greatly impacted and transformed by my Columbia College experience, I am equally humbled and thrilled to be able to return to my beloved Alma Mater to share in the festivities and celebrate this remarkable class.”
Kitt and his wife, Rita Pietropinto-Kitt CC’93, SOA’96, received the Community Impact Award for Outstanding Community Service in 2018. They live in New York City and have three children.
University Commencement, a celebration for graduating students from all 18 Columbia schools, colleges and affiliate institutions, will be held Wednesday, May 18.