JESSYE NORMAN, Soprano
Swasey Chapel | 4pm
Volcanic power, inspired performance, irresistible magnetism... According to the New York Times, Jessye Norman is “one of those once-in-a-generation singers who are not simply following in the footsteps of others, but staking out her own niche in the history of singing. This is an amazing voice, a catalogue of all that is virtuous in singing.” No matter what the style or repertoire—from classical music to new—the sound of Jessye Norman’s voice resonating in Swasey Chapel might just cause the supporting beams to tremble.
ABOUT THE GUEST ARTIST
The breath and width of Jessye Norman’s eclectic repertoire share equal richness with that of her innovative programming and scholarship. She brings her passion for singing to all that she surveys on the opera and concert stages of the world, as well as her newest expansion in the world of jazz.
Miss Norman’s collaborations with some of today’s most exciting and creative artists of many different disciplines enliven her own exploration of the arts in all its glorious forms.
Most recently, her work with the four-time Grammy winning composer, Laura Karpman, produced a thrilling new multi-media musical theatre piece, ASK YOUR MAMA – Twelve poems on Jazz – by Langston Hughes, which had its premiere at Carnegie Hall in March of 2009 as a part of the HONOR! Festival held that month: a fifty-two event celebration of the African American contribution to the culture of the world, curated and directed by Miss Norman. ASK YOUR MAMA was also presented at The Hollywood Bowl last summer in the summer of 2009.
The Jessye Norman School for the Arts in her hometown of Augusta, Georgia is a tuition-free arts program for talented middle school students who would otherwise not be able to
enjoy private tutoring in the arts. The school is entering its ninth academic year and is not only a source of great pride for Miss Norman, but a reaction to the need and understanding that students given the opportunity of having the arts as a part of their education and this positive means of self-expression perform better academically all round and grow up to be more involved and caring citizens.
Please do find out more about the school at: jessyenormanschool.org.
Miss Norman’s latest recording, ROOTS: MY LIFE, MY SONG, shares with the listener what she refers to as a part of her personal universe, some of the soundtrack of her life which offers her the opportunity to pay homage to some of the many who influence and encourage her ceaseless curiosity and what she feels is an obligation to offer musical expression outside of the traditional Classical canon, as she wishes to reach as many ears as will hear and as many hearts that are open to taking this often surprising musical journey with her.
In March of 2012, she performed songs of John Cage with Meredith Monk and Joan LaBarbara under the auspices of the San Francisco Symphony and conductor, Michael Tilson Thomas.
This fully-staged production of the Cage songs presented yet another opportunity for Miss Norman to scale new heights and broaden her artistic palette while enjoying another wonderful collaboration with artists whom she admires. Her work with several not-for-profit organizations include the New York Public Library, The Dance Theatre of Harlem, Howard University and the Carnegie Hall Boards of Trustees, a graduate fellowship program and master class series in her name at The University of Michigan and spokesperson for The Partnership for the Homeless, all of which speak to her concern for the larger community and the citizenship that she credits her parents for having shown her from early childhood through their own community service.
Miss Norman is an honorary ambassador to the United Nations,a fellow at Jesus and Newham Colleges at Cambridge University, a Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres as well as a holder of the Legion D’Honneur, in France. France has named an orchid for her and in her hometown, an amphitheater which overlooks the tranquil Savannah River, bears name.
Further accolades and awards include five Grammys and some thirty-eight honorary doctorates from universities, colleges and conservatories around the world, but it is the sheer joy of singing the keeps her ever searching, ever exploring, ever seeking to honor the ancestors.