Classically Trained Series

Classically Trained: Houston Person

By Marisa Mecke

Discover something new today! This series explores the lives and contributions of classical artists with connections to the Carolinas. Intended as quick “brain breaks” for learners of all ages, these educational features can be divided into sections for daily reading or used as lesson plans for students at home.


Jazz saxophone virtuoso Houston Person is a prolific performer and record producer whose work spans decades and genres. With a style described as relaxed and distinctly expressive, Person has recorded more than 100 jazz, disco, gospel, pop, and R&B albums and continues to perform well into his eighties. Person plays fluently in styles from hard bop to swing, but he is best known for his influential work in soul jazz. 

Video: Houston Person: What a Wonderful World
Early Life, Education, and Experiences

Born in Florence, South Carolina in 1934, Person began his musical journey by learning to play the piano as a child. At 17 years old, Person received a tenor saxophone for Christmas, which led him to make the switch to the instrument he is famous for today. His classical training continued after high school at South Carolina State College, where he completed his undergraduate degree before enlisting in the army. 

After college, Person joined a service band while stationed in West Germany with the United States Air Force, where he played with many notable musicians such as Don Ellis, Eddie Harris, Cedar Walton, and Leo Wright. Person then furthered his music education at the Hartt College of Music in Hartford, Connecticut. During his graduate studies, he gained experience playing in clubs all around New England, practicing and performing with fellow jazz talents before his career took flight. 

Fun Fact: In 1999, Person was inducted into South Carolina State College’s Hall of Fame for his contributions to the music industry. 

Video: Lisa Ferraro with Houston Person – Teach Me Tonight
Rise to Fame

Person’s rise to fame began when he became known for a series of albums with the jazz label Prestige Records in the 1960s. After years of building a career in the jazz circuit, Person made his Prestige debut on organist Johnny “Hammond” Smith’s 1965 album The Stinger. The experience was influential to Person’s style: after he formed a band of his own in the early 1970s, Person continued to feature the organ (a staple of the soul jazz subgenre) in his own music. His first album as a leader was Underground Soul!, released on the Prestige Records label in 1966. 

During this time period, Person often worked with late singer Etta Jones. A three-time Grammy Award nominee and 2008 Grammy Hall of Fame inductee for her album Don’t Go to Strangers, Jones met Person while working with one of Hammond Smith’s bands at Prestige. The pair played together for 35 years, with Person serving as her manager and producer until her death in 2001. 

A Career in Motion

Though Person is well into his eighties, his career shows no signs of slowing down. In an interview at the San Diego Jazz Party, Person noted that at his age, his wife feels that he should cut back on the month long tours he continues to book. However, Person is dedicated to his music career and cherishes the places it has taken him, stating that “everything I ever did, I stand by. For me, it’s been a wonderful journey.”

Truly an independent artist, Person is also known for self-managing his thriving music career, booking his own appearances and producing his own records. In 1982, Person received the Eubie Blake Jazz Award, a prestigious honor named for the esteemed 20th century pianist, lyricist, and ragtime and jazz composer.  

Advice and Mentorship

An inspiration and mentor, Person has guided many young musicians in their careers, including jazz pianist Joe Alterman. Despite their 55 year age gap, Person and Alterman have developed a close friendship while playing together at jazz clubs in New York. Person’s best advice to young musicians is to “know your craft. It’s hard work. Get an education, but don’t sacrifice one for the other. Learn to speak for yourself. Blow your horn.” 

In an interview with The Orangeburg Times and Democrat,, saxophonist Thomas “Skipp” Pearson recalls living by South Carolina State College and listening to Person practice in the college’s band room alongside jazz greats like Lonnie Hamilton and George Kenny. Pearson has always remembered Person’s advice: “Once you find your voice, the rest is easy, and then you just play from your heart and soul.”

Video: Joe Alterman, Houston Person, James Cammack, Lewis Nash –
“Blue Moon” – at the Iridium (Joe Alterman)
Spotify Playlist
  1. “Willow Weep for Me” – Houston Person, I’m Just a Lucky So and So
  2. “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most” – Ron Carter and Houston Person, Now’s the Time/Something in Common
  3. “Everything Happens to Me” – Houston Person, The Talk of the Town
  4. “Talk of the Town” – Teddy Edwards and Houston Person, Horn to Horn
  5. “My One and Only Love” – Houston Person and Ron Carter, Remember Love
  6. “Just My Imagination” – Houston Person, Legends of Acid Jazz
  7. “I Can’t Get Started” – Houston Person and Ron Carter, Chemistry
  8. “The Sin-In” – Johnny “Hammond” Smith and Houston Person, The Soulful Blues
  9. “The Girl from Ipanema” – Teddy Edwards and Houston Person, Horn to Horn
  10. “Crazy He Calls Me” – Houston Person, Something Personal
Sources and Further Reading

“Houston Person” (Inter-Jazz.com)

“Houston Person” (Concord Music)

“Preserving the gem: Revered jazz musician credits Orangeburg for his love of the genre” (The Times and Democrat)

“Artist Biography”  (Scott Yanow, allmusic.com)

“Houston Person: It’s Been a Wonderful Journey” (The Syncopated Times)

“Meet the Weird, Wonderful and Sexiest Duo Since Brangelina: Joe Alterman and Houston Person”  (Huffington Post)

Pictured: Houston Person by Steve Mynett Vancouver, Canada, CC BY 2.0.

Classically Trained: Tichina Vaughn

Discover something new today! This series explores the lives and contributions of classical artists with connections to the Carolinas. Intended as quick “brain breaks” for learners of all ages, these educational features can be divided into sections for daily reading or used as lesson plans for students at home.


Musical Beginnings

Raised in Winston-Salem, NC, mezzo-soprano Tichina Vaughn has built a standout international reputation while maintaining strong ties to her home state. Tichina’s formal vocal study began shortly after high school at Georgia State University, but her early years were steeped in musical activity: studying clarinet, playing in marching and concert bands, and singing as a choir member and soloist. 

Tichina received her Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in 1989.

What is a mezzo-soprano?  
“Mezzo” is an Italian word meaning “middle” or “half.” A mezzo-soprano is a female singer with a vocal range “halfway” between a soprano (the highest female voice type) and contralto (the lowest female voice type).

Even before her graduation, Tichina’s unmistakable voice drew attention from some of the world’s foremost opera houses – and after winning the 1989 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, she joined the Met’s Young Artist Development program and made her stage debut there as Lily in the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess in 1990. 


An Emerging Artist and the Early Years

Tichina’s first leading role on a major opera stage, Amneris in a Seattle Opera production of Verdi’s Aida, arrived just two years later in 1992. Her interpretation sparked immediate attention from the opera community, and invitations to reprise the role began to pour in from companies around the globe. Soon, Tichina was recognized as an emerging Verdian mezzo-soprano, regularly taking on leading roles such as Princess Eboli in Don Carlos and the mezzo-soprano soloist in Verdi’s Requiem throughout the early 1990s. 

Fun Fact: Tichina has regularly ventured into jazz, gospel, and other crossover work, including a featured performance at the 50th anniversary of the German State of Baden-Württemberg. 

In 1996, Tichina made her European debut as Mistress Quickly in Staatstheater Stuttgart’s production of Falstaff, which marked the beginning of both her long relationship with the company and her robust European career. From 1998 to 2006, she continued to perform with the Staatstheater Stuttgart as a principal artist, eventually earning the distinction of Kammersängerin, the German honorific title for opera singers of the highest merit. Throughout her years in Stuttgart, Tichina’s list of signature roles blossomed as her aptitude for the works of Wagner became evident, culminating with her appearances as Fricka (Die Walküre) and Waltraute (Götterdämmerung) in the Staatstheater Stuttgart’s full recording of Wagner’s Ring cycle via Naxos in 2006.

Video: Dream Variations (Margaret Bonds) -Tichina Vaughn

Career Highlights and Accolades

Now one of opera’s most sought-after mezzo-sopranos, Tichina has quite literally performed around the globe, with previous engagements on international stages including the National Opera Hong Kong, Greek National Opera, Budapest National Opera, Hamburg Opera, Opera Graz, and countless others. She made numerous appearances with the Arena di Verona summer festival in Italy starting in 2003, and from 2010 to 2018, she was engaged as a principal artist at Semperoper Dresden.

In addition to her 1989 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions award, Tichina is the recipient of the Opera Index Vocal Award, Living Heritage Foundation Award, the Consul General’s Award for Cultural Diplomacy from the Consulate General Milan, and many other prestigious accolades.

Fun Fact: James Allbritten, general and artistic director of North Carolina’s Piedmont Opera General and artistic director at Fletcher Opera, describes Tichina’s voice as “just what opera wants… a rich, round voice that, in the upper registers, gets a shimmer and won’t let go.”

More details on Tichina’s accomplishments, engagements, and signature roles can be found in her official artist bio

Video: Tichina Vaughn/Luana DeVol – Wagner Die Götterdämmerung (Stuttgart)

Recent Projects 

Just as Tichina’s voice sets her apart from her peers, another personal strength is clear in everything she does: her infectious positive spirit. Tichina’s enthusiasm is on display in the series “Behind the Row” on her YouTube channel The GRATITUDE Channel, which features dynamic, impromptu interviews with her costars in the English National Opera’s 2019 production of Porgy and Bess (and, in doing so, highlights the experiences of Black and brown singers from around the world). Though she has taken on several roles from Porgy and Bess over the years, a true full-circle moment arrived in 2019, when Tichina returned to the Metropolitan Opera to reprise the role of Lily for the first time at the Met since her 1990 debut. She can be heard on the 2020 recording of the same production with Angel Blue and Eric Owens, which has been nominated for Best Opera Recording at the 2021 GRAMMY Awards

An active voice teacher and mentor, Tichina returned to North Carolina in October 2019 and February 2020 as an artist-in-residence at her alma mater, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. At UNCSA, Tichina led a series of master classes and mentored fellows of the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute one on one, offering private vocal coaching and individualized career counseling. UNCSA School of Music interim dean Tony Woodcock described the residency as “a real plus for our graduate students as they transition to roles as entrepreneurial professional artists… and all of our voice students (are) inspired by her wisdom and her artistry.”

Though the COVID-19 pandemic is still with us, Tichina has continued to perform with increased pandemic precautions in Europe, including an October 2020 production of Porgy and Bess with Austria’s Theater an der Wien. We can all be hopeful that in-person performances will return to our lives soon, and we look forward to the next move in Tichina’s remarkable artistic path. 

Video: Tichina Vaughn goes Behind the Row. Episode 1. Latonia Moore, Soprano

Spotify Playlist
  1. “I Wonder As I Wander” – Christmas at My House (Tichina Vaughn)
  2. Die Walkure: Act II Scene I: So ist es denn aus mit den ewigen Gottern (Staatsoper Stuttgart)
  3. Götterdämmerung, WWV 86D, Act I Scene 3: Altgewohntes Gerausch (Staatsoper Stuttgart)
  4. Svanda dudak (Schwanda, the bagpiper): Act I Scene 3: Uz dohral! (Semperoper Dresden)
  5. Svanda dudak (Schwanda, the bagpiper): Act I Scene 2: Slava bude povsem kralovstvi (Semperoper Dresden)

Interview:

Sources and Further Reading

Image of Tichina Vaughn by Bashstint – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Tichina Vaughn (Official Website)

Tichina Vaughn (Fletcher Artist Management)

Internationally acclaimed alumna will be artist-in-residence at UNCSA (University of North Carolina School of the Arts)

Tichina Vaughn teaches Fletcher fellows to dig deep, reach higher till they shimmer and  shine (Winston-Salem Journal)

Here’s how Porgy looks in Vienna’s COVID staging (Slipped Disc)

Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate, Chickasaw classical composer

Pictured: Jerod Impichchaachaaha Tate/©ALANAROTHSTEIN.COM

Friday, November 27 is Native American Heritage Day. In celebration, we’re highlighting the Chickasaw classical composer Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate, an acclaimed artist “dedicated to the development of American Indian classical composition.” Jerod is one of countless Native American, American Indian, and Indigenous artists to leave a lasting impact on the classical music art form. You can read more about these musicians and find additional resources at the end of this article. 

Are the terms “Native American” and “American Indian” interchangeable?
While both terms are frequently used, identity is personal, and no single term will work best for everyone. Though some identify with terms like Native American, American Indian, or Indigenous, many people identify with tribal names or traditional ways of referring to one another. Jerod Tate has expressed that his identity is American Indian, specifically a member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma. Want to make sure you get someone’s identity right? Ask them! 

Video: Jerod Tate – Chickasaw Classical Composer

A Musical Upbringing

Chickasaw classical composer Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate’s earliest years were steeped in the arts. Born and raised in Oklahoma, Jerod was immediately immersed in theater and dance through his parents: his mother, a professional dancer and choreographer, often brought Jerod along to rehearsals, and his father, a Chickasaw tribal judge, lawyer, and classically trained baritone, introduced him to Bach and Rachmaninoff. 

In a National Endowment for the Arts feature, Jerod noted that he “was probably two or three months into piano lessons when I announced to my parents I was going to be a concert pianist.” Years later, Jerod earned a BM in Piano Performance from Northwestern University with the intention of doing just that. In fact, he never imagined a career in composition until after his undergraduate studies, when his mother asked him to write music for an original ballet based on American Indian stories

“It was the first time I actually thought of marrying the two very strong identities that I have,” Jerod recalled in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio. “One is being a Chickasaw Indian, and the other one is being a classical musician. My mother presented the perfect opportunity for me to express both of those together.” Jerod completed the ballet, Winter Moons, during the first semester of his MM studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music and took the next semester off to tour the work with his mother. Encouraged by an enthusiastic response from both his American Indian and classical music communities, Jerod explains that he “decided specifically to become an American Indian classical composer… everything that I compose is based on American Indian history and culture.”

The More You Know: Jerod’s middle name, Impichchaachaaha’ (IM-pi-chuh-CHA-ha), is an inherited Chickasaw house name meaning “his high corncrib.” A corncrib is “a small hut used for the storage of corn and other vegetables.


Development and Notable Works

Though Jerod felt enormous pressure when he began to compose American Indian classical music, he was inspired by the way composers like Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, and Bartók incorporated their identities into their music. Jerod was particularly influenced by Bartók, who he describes as “the first ethnomusicologist that was aware of his own folk music; he did it so naturally and so joyfully that I felt the same impulse to do the same thing from where I come from.” 

Though his music is written in Western classical forms and styles, Jerod weaves songs, dances, instrumentation, percussive patterns, and other musical traditions from American Indian cultures into everything he composes.  He is also passionate about the representation of American Indian languages and stories in the classical music realm: 

“I have incredible pride in bringing American Indian identity onto the classical stage, and I love bringing our languages into the same stage as Latin, Italian, French, Chinese, and Russian… I have written pieces in a lot of different tribal languages, and I am very, very on fire in my passion for bringing our language and culture to the concert stage. We belong there, just like we belong in a genetic engineering lab or in agriculture changing the world, just like we do being astronauts. We belong on the concert stage as well.”

(NEA)

In 2008, Jerod’s work Iholba’ made history as the first time the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra had performed a work in any Native American language. Recent works include Chokfi’ (2018), a character sketch for youth orchestra based on “an important trickster legend,” and Muscogee Hymn Suite (2017), “an orchestration of three traditional Muscogee (Creek) church hymns.” As a film composer, Jerod has scored numerous documentaries and feature films including “Searching for Sequoyah” (2020) and “To the Wonder” (2012). A full list of Jerod’s works can be found here

Describing identity as “the most important thing to every human alive,” Jerod is proud to represent his Chickasaw culture through his music.  “I encourage composers to find their personal identity,” Jerod explained in an interview with the Dallas Morning News. “I believe that human beings are born brilliant and creative. There are 8 billion people, and there are 8 billion ways to be creative.”

Video: Chokfi’, by Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate – Seattle Pacific University Orchestra

Awards, Acclaim, and Recent Projects

Earlier this year, Jerod premiered the commissioned work Ghost of the White Deer, a bassoon concerto based on the story of a young American Indian hunter, with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. In 2018, his music was selected to be featured on the hit HBO series Westworld.

A sought after artist, Jerod has received commissions from numerous symphony orchestras and organizations including the National Symphony Orchestra, the American Composers Forum, and Chamber Music America. He is the recipient of the Cleveland Institute of Music Alumni Achievement Award, an Emmy award winner for his work on the documentary “The Science of Composing,” and a governor-appointed Creativity Ambassador for the State of Oklahoma. 

Outside of his composition career, Jerod has performed with the Broadway national tours of Les Misérables and Miss Saigon as First Keyboard and has regularly served as a guest pianist and accompanist for ballet and dance companies. He is the founder and artistic director of the Chickasaw Chamber Music Festival and has been an adjunct instructor at OKlahoma City University since 2011. 

Jerod’s accomplishments as a composer are multifaceted and numerous, making it impossible to include every important detail in this article. A more complete list can be found at his official website.

Video: Standing Bear: A Ponca Indian Cantata in Eight Tableaux

Sources and Further Reading

Official Website – Jerod Tate

Art Talk with Composer Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate (National Endowment for the Arts)

Jerod Impichaachaaha Tate: Native Composer (New Music Box)

Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate (Wikipedia)

Composer Jerod Tate will bring American Indian legend to the Dallas Symphony (Dallas News)

Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate coloring page (WDAV’s Coloring Classical Music activity page)


Spotify playlist
  1. Tracing Mississippi: Shilombish Anompoli’ (Talking Spirits) – Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate, San Francisco Symphony
  2. Tracing Mississippi: IV. Hashi’ Hiloha (Sun Thunder) –  Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate, San Francisco Symphony
  3. Pisachi (You See) – Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate
  4. Iholba’ (The Vision): II. Iholba’ (The Vision) – Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate, San Francisco Symphony

Additional Resources

Native American classical composers charting new musical territory (The National Museum of the American Indian)

Teaching Appreciation and Understanding for Native American Music and Culture (Video)

Chickasaw Chamber Music Festival

Native American Composer Apprentice Project

Louis Wayne Ballard (1931 – 2007)

Raven Chacon

Dawn Avery, Mystic Cellist & Vocalist

Brent Michael Davids

Classically Trained: Rayna Gellert

Pictured: Rayna Gellert, by Filberthockey at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0.

By Marisa Mecke

Discover something new today! This series explores the lives and contributions of classical artists with connections to the Carolinas. Intended as quick “brain breaks” for learners of all ages, these educational features can be divided into sections for daily reading or used as lesson plans for students at home.


NAME: Rayna Gellert

PROFESSION: Folk musician

FUN FACT: Rayna has made several videos of fiddle tunes played at different speeds available at her website as a resource for beginners and “fiddle geeks.”


A Musical Upbringing

Asheville-based fiddler and singer Rayna Gellert grew up surrounded by rural string music, gospel songs, and old-time ballads. Born into a musical family in Elkhart, Indiana, Rayna was particularly influenced by her father, multi-instrumentalist and old-time music legend Dan Gellert. 

Rayna called on inspiration from her upbringing for her 2012 album Old Light: Songs from My Childhood & Other Gone Worlds, a mixture of original tunes and songs she listened to her parents sing throughout her childhood – but not without hesitation. “My reverence for the music and my complicated relationship with it, being so deeply tied to family and childhood and lots of emotion, made me skittish,” Rayna explained in a Huffington post interview, “Part of my process in recent years has been recognizing that creating a new or different version of a song isn’t disrespectful or dismissive of any other version of that song… My singing a song isn’t me saying ‘My way is best.’ It’s just me saying, ‘I want you to hear this song.’” 

Originally trained as a classical violinist, Rayna picked up fiddling in 1994 when she moved to North Carolina to attend Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa. Through participating in countless jam sessions and square dances, Rayna sharpened her fiddle skills – and soon enough, she began to tour the world. 

Audio: Playlist of “Old-Time Music Favorites” curated by Rayna Gellert


Ensemble and Collaborative Work

In January of 2000, Rayna joined the old-time string band Freight Hoppers and later became a member of the all-female old-time band Uncle Earl, a group that aims to introduce new audiences to the “beauty and limitless potential” of old-time American music while “inspiring the explorations of the next generation of root musicians.” During her time with Uncle Earl, the group released their first EP, Going to the Western Slope, soon followed by a second EP (Raise a Ruckus) and two full-length albums (She Waits for Night and Waterloo, Tennessee). 

Rayna has toured extensively with her Uncle Earl bandmate Abigail Washburn and songwriter Scott Miller, whose paths collided when they were booked as part of the same Mountain Stage show in 2010. Adding to her extensive discography, Rayna and Scott released an EP entitled Codependents in 2012. A frequent collaborator, Rayna has worked with a host of musicians from different backgrounds throughout her career, including Jamie Dick, Jon Estes, Robyn Hitchcock, Sara Watkins, and her “favorite musician on the planet” – her father, who is featured on a handful of Old Light tracks. 

Audio: Listen to Rayna Gellert and Scott Miller Live on West Virginia Public broadcasting and NPR Music on Mountain Stage 


Collaboration with Kieran Kane

Through his work with the O’Kanes and Kane Welch Kaplin – and co-founding the independent label Dead Reckoning Records – contemporary Americana musician Kieran Kane has had a massive impact on the genre. In 2017, Kieran joined forces with Rayna after the two met at San Francisco’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, and the pair began to release collaborative work soon after: Kieran appeared on and co-produced Rayna’s 2017 album Workin’s Too Hard, followed by two duo albums: The Ledges (2018) and When the Sun Goes Down (2019). 

Though Kieran and Rayna’s collaboration is ongoing, their scheduled 2020 tour of Australia was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a newsletter to their followers, Gellert expressed her disappointment, but shared her hope of finding online avenues to connect with the music community. 

Video: Kieran Kane & Rayna Gellert Folk Alley Sessions 

Solo Work and Accolades

Outside of her work in ensembles and collaborations, Rayna has regularly performed and recorded as a solo act. In 2003, Gellert was a featured performer at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, an annual exposition of “living cultural heritage” on the National Mall in DC, and has been a finalist several times at the Appalachian String Band Music Festival in Clifftop, West Virginia. 

Though her work is inspired by the music of decades and centuries before her time, Rayna’s music never fails to strike a clean balance between tradition and revolution. Until 2012, Rayna’s singing experience was mostly limited to backup harmonies – but since the release of her Old Light album, which prominently features her singing and songwriting prowess, Rayna’s voice has been a signature component of her work. Her second solo album, Workin’s Too Hard (2017), continues the tradition she solidified in her first solo album – masterfully mixing the old and new – and paves the way forward for American folk music. 

Video: The Stars- Rayna Gellert 

Spotify Playlist   
  1. “Workin’s Too Hard” – Rayna Gellert
  2. “Nothing” – Rayna Gellert
  3. “Swannanoa Waltz” – Rayna Gellert
  4. “What Would You Do” – Kieran Kane, Rayna Gellert
  5. “Shoulda Been Done” – Kieran Kane, Rayna Gellert
  6. “Grey Bird” – Rayna Gellert
  7. “The Stars” – Rayna Gellert
  8. “Last Train” – Abigail Washburn
  9. “Coll Mackenzie (Archie Fisher)” – Nathan Salsburg
  10.  “Ships” – Tyler Ramsey

Sources and Further Reading

About: Kieran Kane & Rayna Gellert (official website)

Images: Kieran Kane & Rayna Gellert (official website)

Rayna Gellert: From Violin to Fiddle (Musika Kaleidoskopia)

Freight Hoppers (Harmony Ridge Music)

Uncle Earl (official website)

The Memory Project: Rayna Gellert (Our State Magazine)

Rayna Gellert: Workin’s Too Hard (Folk Radio)

Classically Trained: Anthony Roth Costanzo

Pictured: Anthony Roth Costanzo by Asdielman – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0.

By Mary Lathem

Discover something new today! This series explores the lives and contributions of classical artists with connections to the Carolinas. Intended as quick “brain breaks” for learners of all ages, these educational features can be divided into sections for daily reading or used as lesson plans for students at home.


NAME: Anthony Roth Costanzo

PROFESSION: Countertenor

Video: Anthony Roth Costanzo NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

Broadway Beginnings

Hailed as “vocally brilliant and dramatically fearless,” countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo is a consummate artist among the greatest talents of his generation. Growing up in Durham, North Carolina, Anthony’s musical path began at the piano. He struggled to read sheet music as a young student, leading his teacher to try a unique approach: rather than sight reading on the piano, Anthony was instructed to sing from the music instead. The exercise worked – and a passion for singing was born. 

Anthony quickly discovered an affinity for musical theatre. By the age of 11, he had appeared in 20 productions in his home state and began to set his sights higher. After convincing his parents that he should give the New York City theatre scene a try, Anthony found rapid success on Broadway and performing in Broadway national tours. He recalls his time in musical theatre in an episode of the video series Living the Classical Life: “It was amazing… I had this breadth of experience which was really illuminating in terms of my understanding of the dramatic arts.”

Video: Anthony Roth Costanzo sings Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm”

Making a Splash

Anthony’s first brush with opera arrived when he was cast in a production of Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, making a lasting impression on music director and conductor Michael Pratt. “He was thoroughly professional, completely prepared, and had excellent musicianship,” Michael later remarked, “It was like working with a pro when I first met him at age 13.” While preparing for the opera, someone pointed out that Anthony had retained a high natural singing voice despite having gone through puberty – the first sign that he might be a countertenor. 

In his teens, Anthony’s career flourished on and off the stage; notably, he earned the chance to perform alongside Luciano Pavarotti in the Opera Extravaganza at Philadelphia’s Academy of Music. During a “detour into the world of film,” he also received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for his role in the 1998 film A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries.

While pursuing a Bachelor’s degree at Princeton University, Anthony embarked on an ambitious senior thesis project: co-writing and starring in the avant-garde performance piece The Double Life of Zefirino, a fictional account of an 18th-century castrato opera singer. The piece – and its creation – became the subject of the documentary Zefirino: The Voice of a Castrato, which was selected for the Cannes Film Festival and won a Director’s Choice Award at the Black Maria International Film Festival in 2007. Anthony later earned a Master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music, where he received the Hugh Ross Award for singers of exceptional promise. 


Early Accolades and Achievement

A standout among his peers, Anthony’s post-grad years are marked by accomplishment after accomplishment. In 2008, Anthony received the top award at both the Opera Index Vocal Competition and the Sullivan Foundation Auditions. The following year was even better: Anthony won a Richard F. Gold Career Grant, took first place at both the Jensen Foundation Competition and National Opera Association Vocal Competition (Artist Division), and became a 2009 Grand Finals Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Among other awards, Anthony cinched first place at the international opera competition Operalia in 2012. 

 Video: 2012 Operalia Competition – Anthony Roth Costanzo – Tolomeo (HD)

As Anthony notes in a 2016 interview with the Los Angeles Times, countertenor roles are largely limited to “two ends of the spectrum: before 1750 and after 1950.” Equally versed in both extremes, Anthony made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Unulfo in Handel’s Rodelinda in 2011 and sang in the world premieres of two major American operas in 2015: Jimmy López’s Bel Canto at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Jake Heggie’s Great Scott at the Dallas Opera (opposite mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato). Anthony and Joyce appear together on the original cast recording of Great Scott, released in 2018. 


Performer, Producer, Curator, Collaborator

Now nearly three decades into a life on the professional stage at 38, Anthony has never been satisfied to take the most obvious route. As a performer, he has held engagements with many of the world’s leading opera houses (to name a few, the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the English National Opera), but his boundless creativity has led to numerous projects outside an opera singer’s typical comfort zone.

Anthony became the first American opera singer to appear in a Kabuki play, a traditional Japanese drama form, in Kyoto in 2014 after forming a friendship with writer Toyoshige Imai. The play, a new adaptation of the 11th century classic The Tale of Genji, melded the Kabuki and Western opera forms to create something “palpably new” – and all 26 performances sold out. 

In 2018, Anthony teamed up with Visionaire to create the multimedia installation Glass Handel to coincide with the release of his studio album ARC, which features the works of Philip Glass and G.F. Handel. A jaw-dropping melding of music, fashion, live painting, dance, and film, the project brought together many of Anthony’s former colleagues to create an interactive experience intended to introduce new audiences to opera. A set of highly original music videos, filmed to sync with Anthony’s singing during the performance, are available to view on YouTube. ARC would later receive a Grammy nomination for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album in 2019. 

As curator and producer, Anthony has worked with National Sawdust to create a new production of Handel’s Aci, Galatea e Polifemo and the compilation piece Orphic Moments. “Interdisciplinary collaboration, growing audiences, and creating interesting art, whether I’m producing it, or curating it, or just making introductions among opera companies and directors, are all important to me,” Anthony explains in an interview, “As an opera singer in today’s world, you can’t just sing your roles well; you have to be a creative spirit and a driving force.”


A Career 

In 2016, Anthony took on his most challenging engagement to date: the title role in a new production of Philip Glass’s Akhnaten. In Anthony’s words, his role in the opera – a physically and vocally demanding spectacle of over three hours – “goes beyond athletic to Olympic.” He premiered the production with the English National Opera and has since performed the role at the Los Angeles Opera and the Metropolitan Opera (opposite mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges). 

Video: How an Opera Gets Made

Recently named Musical America’s 2019 Vocalist of the Year, Anthony continuously makes strides as a champion of opera’s place in the present and future. “This is something that can connect to all different kinds of people,” he explained in an interview with NPR. “I feel like the emotional sweep of opera is what we need to give us some perspective on our lives, on this time we’re living in, on all of that. We need that kind of catharsis.” Though any one of Anthony’s accomplishments could be the pinnacle of a life in the arts, the sense emerges that his career is just beginning – and what comes next will surprise, delight, and inspire. 


Spotify Playlist
  1. Dixit Dominus, HWV 232: 1. Soli & Chorus “Dixit Dominus” – G.F. Handel
  2. Heggie: Great Scott, Act I: Break – Jake Heggie
  3. ARC, 1000 Airplanes on the Roof: The Encounter – Philip Glass
  4. ARC, Liquid Days – David Byrne, Philip Glass
  5. ARC, Rinaldo, HWV 7: “Lascia ch’io pianga”

Sources and Further Reading

Video: “Perfection is deeply boring.” – Anthony Roth Costanzo, Living the Classical Life

Anthony Roth Costanzo (Official Website)

A life in opera” (Princeton Alumni Weekly)

Four Singers Win $15,000 Prizes in Metropolitan Opera’s 2009 National Council Auditions” (Opera News)

Vocalist of the Year: Anthony Roth Costanzo” (Musical America)

Road Show – Anthony Roth Costanzo in Kyoto” (Opera News)

Visionaire presents GLASS HANDEL” (Visionaire)

The falsetto pharaoh: The story behind the powerfully high voice in L.A. Opera’s ‘Akhnaten’” (Los Angeles Times)

Anthony Roth Costanzo: A Countertenor For The 21st Century” (NPR)

Classically Trained: David Charles Abell

Pictured: David Charles Abell By Tom Kilworth – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wikipedia.

By Mary Lathem

Discover something new today! This series explores the lives and contributions of classical artists with connections to the Carolinas. Intended as quick “brain breaks” for learners of all ages, these educational features can be divided into sections for daily reading or used as lesson plans for students at home.


NAME:
David Charles Abell (b. 1958)

PROFESSION: Conductor

Fun Fact: Famed Italian-American opera composer Gian Carlo Menotti once gave David this advice: “Don’t ever conduct Broadway. You will never be taken seriously again as a conductor.” Things didn’t exactly turn out that way.


An Early Start – And A Debut Like No Other

David Charles Abell’s path to classical music’s highest ranks accelerated more quickly than most. Born in Jacksonville, North Carolina in 1958, David spent the majority of his childhood in Philadelphia, where his musical education took root as a member of both the school orchestra and a local boys choir. In 1971, David was chosen to be part of the Berkshire Boy Choir, a summer national choir described in the New York Times as “a phenomenon… an assemblage of some of the best boy voices in the country.” 

In the same year, the beloved American composer-conductor Leonard Bernstein was preparing for the premiere of his theatrical work Mass, which had been commissioned by first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis for the opening of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts – and the Berkshire Boy Choir was selected to perform. David had a chance to meet Bernstein at a recording session after the performance, but it wasn’t the last time their lives would intersect. 

David went on to pursue musical training at Yale University, the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau, and the Juilliard School, learning from masters including John Mauceri, Nadia Boulanger, and – you guessed it – Leonard Bernstein. As an undergraduate student at Yale, David reconnected with Bernstein through Mauceri and began to work with him as an editor and protégé. Bernstein was later responsible for David’s extraordinary professional conducting debut: at just 23 years old, David conducted the European premiere of Mass at Berlin’s Deutschlandhalle in a true full circle moment. 

Video: Notes From a Master

Notable Projects and Developing Interests

David made his American debut in 1983 at a Washington National Opera performance of Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, stepping in for Mauceri with only a few hours’ notice. After a series of high-profile opera engagements throughout the 1980s, David accepted an offer to conduct the 1989 national tour of Claude-Michel Schönberg’s Les Misérables, the beginning of a lifelong reputation as a master conductor of musical theatre. His work on the show impressed Schönberg, and in 1995, David was tapped to lead the televised 10th anniversary concert version of the musical. Fifteen years later, he returned to conduct the 25th anniversary broadcast at London’s O2 Arena. 

After officially relocating to London in 1996, David maintained a bustling calendar of opera, musical theatre, and concert appearances, including regular guest conductor slots at the BBC Proms. In fact, the 2010 celebration of Stephen Sondheim’s 80th birthday at the Proms was David’s brainchild: having adored Sondheim’s work since a trip to see A Little Night Music at 16, David successfully argued that the composer’s music belonged in front of the Proms’ “knowledgeable and enthusiastic” audience. 


Preserving an Art Form

Throughout his career, David has shown a keen interest in preserving Broadway shows with the same dignity granted to the classical “greats,” often partnering with his husband Seann Alderking, a pianist and musicologist. David and Seann notably worked together to produce a clarified version of Bernstein’s West Side Story for the composer after multiple poorly organized iterations created “a mess.”

While preparing to conduct the Broadway musical Kiss Me, Kate at the Glimmerglass Festival in 2008, David began to search for the show’s original manuscripts, hoping to create a full orchestral score – something of a rarity for Broadway classics. “Having conducted a lot of Broadway shows, I knew that the orchestra parts and scores are usually in terrible shape,” David explained in an interview with Opera North, adding that parts are often handwritten and may not match one another as versions are mixed together over the years.

After what felt like an “archaeological dig,” David and Seann uncovered 75-80% of the original orchestrators’ manuscripts on the shelves of the law office that protects the Cole Porter Trusts. Thrilled to discover that the majority of Kiss Me, Kate still existed in its first iteration, David secured support from the Cole Porter Trust to produce what’s known as a critical edition, a comprehensive version of a work intended to be as faithful as possible to the original form. Over the next four years, David and Seann meticulously edited and compiled a complete, error-free version of over 1,000 pages, allowing audiences to hear the show’s original sound for the first time in decades. With David at the podium, Kiss Me, Kate’s new critical edition had its first fully-staged performance at Opera North in 2015. 

Video: Compiling a NEW critical edition of Kiss Me, Kate | David Charles Abell

Recent Work and Career Developments

Described as “a protean talent” possessing “impeccable and inspired” conducting skill, David’s most recent projects include appearances with Opera Philadelphia, the Cincinnati Opera, the Glimmerglass Festival, and the English National Opera, where he conducted a critically acclaimed 2015 production of Sweeney Todd starring Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson. David has been lauded as an “authoritative interpreter” of the works of Stephen Sondheim, leading the French premieres of Follies, Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George, and Into the Woods between 2011 and 2014. David was appointed Music Director and Principal Conductor of The Philly POPS in February 2020 and remains in the prime of his career. 

“If I hadn’t (conducted Broadway musicals), my career might have been easier, but I don’t regret it. It taught me about storytelling,” David expressed in a 2019 interview with the Cincinnati Opera, noting that conductors who work in musical theatre are often pigeonholed in the genre. “I do think of all music as storytelling, even a Mahler or Beethoven symphony… if you can bring that alive for an audience, you can engage them.” 


Spotify Playlist
  1. “Eternal Source of Light Divine” – Enlightenment: Music for the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, 2012
  2. “So In Love” from Kiss Me Kate – Simon Keenlyside: Something’s Gotta Give, 2014
  3. Madama Butterfly: Act II, “Un bel di vedremo” – Highlights from Puccini’s La Bohème and Madama Butterfly, 2009
  4. Tobias and the Angel: “Time to get up” – Tobias and the Angel, 2010
  5. Die Fledermaus: Act II, “Mein Herr Marquis” – Diana Damrau: Forever, 2013
  6. Mass, I: VI. Gloria, 1. Gloria tibi – Bernstein: Mass, 1971

Sources and Further Reading

David Charles Abell: Storytelling (Cincinnati Opera)

Biography: David Charles Abell (David Charles Abell Official Website)

Interview with David Charles Abell, Conductor of the 2010 Sondheim Prom (The Art of the Torch Singer)

Music: Berkshire Choir (New York Times)

Mass (Bernstein) (Wikipedia)

David Charles Abell (Wikipedia)

Philly Pops fan fave David Charles Abell is a ‘Kiss Me, Kate’ music sleuth — come hear his restoration of the original 1948 score (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

Conductor David Charles Abell Prepares For A Season of Sondheim

Reviews: David Charles Abell (David Charles Abell Official Website)

Classically Trained: Carol Brice

Pictured: Carol Brice by Carl Van Vechten, Public Domain.

By Mary Lathem

Discover something new today! This series explores the lives and contributions of classical artists with connections to the Carolinas. Intended as quick “brain breaks” for learners of all ages, these educational features can be divided into sections for daily reading or used as lesson plans for students at home.


NAME: Carol Brice

PROFESSION: Contralto (opera singer)

CONTRALTO: The lowest female voice type in classical singing, with a vocal range between mezzo-soprano and tenor. 

FUN FACT: While enrolled at the Palmer Memorial Institute, Carol had the opportunity to meet the esteemed contralto Marian Anderson when she visited the school. Marian famously performed a concert from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to a crowd of 75,000 in 1939 after she was denied the chance to sing to an integrated audience at Washington, D.C.’s Constitution Hall. 


First Signs of a Special Talent

From opera’s most famous venues to the Broadway stage, contralto Carol Brice’s remarkable story began here in the Carolinas. At 18 months old, Carol was sent to Sedalia, North Carolina to live with a cousin of her mother, Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown. Dr. Brown was the founder and president of the Palmer Memorial Institute, the only finishing school for African-Americans in the country – and the place where Carol’s musical gifts were first nurtured

Carol performed at some of the nation’s most prestigious venues while still in high school as a member of the Palmer Institute’s Sedalia Singers, including New York City’s Town Hall and the White House. She later earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Talladega College in Alabama and set off for New York City, where she continued her vocal studies as a fellowship recipient at the Juilliard School of Music. 

Fun Fact: The Palmer Memorial Institute, which closed its doors in 1970, officially became North Carolina’s first African-American state historic site in 1987 as a memorial to Dr. Brown.


A Career in Motion

It didn’t take long for Carol’s star to rise after her arrival in New York. Her debut in the musical The Hot Mikado at the 1939 New York World’s Fair made a splash with the public, and just two years later, Carol was selected to sing at the third inauguration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In 1943, Carol became the first African-American person to win the prestigious Naumberg Award. 

Carol soon began to tour the country extensively as a recitalist and concert soloist, including regular engagements with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In the 1950s, her career expanded to the international stage with a summer tour to South and Central America and a 1954 appearance with the Berlin Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra.

 Fun Fact: Carol often collaborated with her brothers Eugene, a fellow Juilliard graduate, and Jonathan, her preferred accompanist and an accomplished singer. The siblings eventually formed the Brice Trio and performed together at New York City’s Town Hall in 1958. 

Video: A Carol Brice Recital (1947)

Broadway Breakout and Continued Success

It’s never too late to discover something new about yourself – and after her critically-acclaimed performance in the 1958 New York City Opera production of Marc Blitzstein’s theatrical work Regina, Carol transitioned seamlessly into the world of musical theatre at the age of 40. Carol’s Broadway roles include Kakou in Howard Arlen’s Saratoga (a role she originated), Maude in Finian’s Rainbow, Queenie in Showboat, and Maria in Porgy and Bess. 

Carol’s operatic career progressed throughout the 1950s and 60s, particularly through lengthy engagements with the New York City Opera and the Vienna Volksoper. In Vienna, she met the South Carolina-born baritone Thomas Carey, and the pair soon married and began a life together.

Fun Fact: In 1976, Carol starred as Maria in a Houston Grand Opera production of Porgy and Bess. The cast won a 1977 GRAMMY Award for Best Opera Recording, and the entire production transferred to Broadway, where it won the 1977 Tony Award for Most Innovative Production of a Revival. 

Video: Carol Brice sings “The Lonesome Valley”

Later Years and Legacy

When Thomas accepted a teaching position at the University of Oklahoma in 1969, Carol joined him and became a member of the University faculty in 1974. In the following year, the couple founded the Church Circuit Opera Company, now known as the Cimarron Opera. The opera company was created to “serve as a platform for Black artists during a time when (the) town of Norman, Oklahoma was not yet racially integrated” and now provides aspiring artists of all backgrounds with training and performance opportunities.

Revered for her warm, resonant voice and musical sensitivity, Carol was a frequent recipient of awards and recognition throughout her career. She was awarded an honorary doctorate from Talladega University in 1955, and in 1963, she received the National Association of Negro Musicians’ (NANM) Emancipation Proclamation Award. In 2012, North Carolina branch of NANM adopted the name “Carol Brice Music Association” to honor her role in “break(ing) down the racial barriers hindering Black classical artists.” Carol passed away in 1985 at the age of 66, leaving behind a legacy of excellence as a performer, teacher, and leader. 


Spotify Playlist
Spotify Playlist: Carol Brice
  1. Falla: El amor brujo, Ballet-pantomime: No. 3, “Canción del amor dolido” – Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (Fritz Reiner, Carol Brice)
  2. “Night could be time to sleep, night could be time to weep” from Regina – Carol Brice, Elisabeth Carron
  3. “Necessity” from Finian’s Rainbow –  Carol Brice, Finian’s Rainbow Ensemble
  4. “Goose Never Be a Peacock” from Saratoga – Carol Brice
  5. “Gettin’ A Man” from Saratoga – Carol Brice

Sources and Further Reading

Historical Note: Brice, Carol (1916-1985) (Amistad Research Center)

Carol Brice (MasterWorks Broadway)

CAROL BRICE (1918-1985) (Black Past)

Our Founders: Carol Brice Carey (Cimarron Opera)

Carol Brice, Contralto (Bach Cantatas Website)

Carol Brice: Contralto Excellence (Amistad Research Center)

Carol Brice, 68, a Contralto Who Sang Many Lead Roles (New York Times)

About Our Branch (Carol Brice Music Association)

Classically Trained: Carlisle Floyd

Pictured: American opera composer Carlisle Floyd; By Rena Schild/Shutterstock.

By Siân Lewis

Discover something new today! This series explores the lives and contributions of classical artists with connections to the Carolinas. Intended as quick “brain breaks” for learners of all ages, these educational features can be divided into sections for daily reading or used as lesson plans for students at home.


Name: Carlisle Floyd (b. 1926)

Profession: Opera composer and librettist

Fun Fact: Carlisle completed his first opera, Slow Dusk, as a project toward his Master’s degree in Piano with a minor in Composition. 


Beginnings and Early Influences

Little did he know, but a South Carolina boy who begged his mother for piano lessons at the age of three (only to quit when he realized that there was “work involved”) would one day be called the “Father of American Opera.” Luckily, the admired opera composer and librettist Carlisle Floyd regained his interest in the piano at 10 – and this time, he excelled.

In 1943, Carlisle earned a scholarship to attend Converse College in Spartanburg, SC, where he studied piano under Ernst Bacon, a respected composer, pianist, and conductor. When Ernst took a position at Syracuse University in New York, Carlisle followed him and received a Bachelor of Music from Syracuse at the age of 20. Shortly after his graduation, Carlisle began his teaching career at Florida State University and remained on the faculty for thirty years, eventually becoming Professor of Composition.

Carlisle was exposed to the ever-evolving world of American classical music through Ernst, who championed the development of American musical independence. Not only did the American “camp” of classical composition resonate with Carlisle stylistically, it also empowered him to explore composition through his own unique lens. Inspired by lessons his creative writing teacher imparted at Converse (“write what you know” and “mine your experiences of the locations and the people that you have come across”), Carlisle would go on to use his rural upbringing and experience with the working class as fodder for his operas.


Why Opera? 

Although his preliminary training was in piano, Carlisle explains in an interview with NEA Opera Honors that there was never truly a question for him when it came to what he would compose. As a graduate student with a burgeoning interest in composition, the combination of dramatic and musical elements drew him to theatrical works, and his use of text for nearly every project revealed opera to be the “natural arena to spend (his) creative life.”

Although his first two operas, Slow Dusk and The Fugitives, were not particularly successful, these explorations paved the way to his most beloved and well-known work: Susannah. Carlisle sees his musical journey as one of growth and development; in his own words, The Fugitivesbombed royally,” and “Susannah would not have been possible” had he not had this experience with failure.

Susannah: Based on the Apocryphal tale of Susannah and the Elders, Susannah tells the story of a spirited young woman of humble origins who is faced with unjust hostility from her church community.

Featuring Appalachian folk melodies interwoven with Protestant hymns and “traditional” elements of classical music, Susannah officially premiered at Florida State University in 1955. Just one year later, the New York City Opera produced the groundbreaking work to significant acclaim – and the opera world took notice. Over 65 years after its premiere, Susannah remains the second most-performed American opera behind George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.

While searching forsingers for Susannah, Carlisle was surprised that Phyllis Curtin, already an established New York City Opera star, was so willing to listen to the work of a relatively unknown composer. After a brief phone meeting, Carlisle visited her house to read through the two main arias with her. Phyllis, who would be cast as the original Susannah, fell in love with the piece immediately: born and raised in West Virginia, Phyllis felt “sympathetic” to the character and related to her in ways she had never experienced with an operatic role. Phyllis reprised her performance in the New York City Opera production and went on to sing the title role many times, including the 1958 World’s Fair production in Brussels.

In an interview, Carlisle explained his desire to “redress the balance (of opera) with drama and music,” creating an art form that anyone can enjoy – and by all accounts, Susannah was “very easily accepted” by audiences in its earliest days. Not only is the story widely accessible, but its musical influences resonate with the American experience, particularly in the rural South and Appalachia. In Phyllis’ words, Susannah “exemplifies what real opera is… a remarkable coming together of people and music.”

Video: Renée Fleming sings “Ain’t it a pretty night” from Susannah 

Other Works

Following the success of Susannah, Carlisle went on to compose numerous other operas such as Wuthering Heights (1958) and Of Mice and Men (1970). After a hiatus of almost twenty years, Carlisle completed the opera Cold Sassy Tree (2000), based on the novel by Olive Ann Burns. As his only venture into comedy, Cold Sassy Tree was a completely new experience for Carlisle; he notes that he once told his wife he felt like he’d “never written an opera before” while piecing the work together. Carlisle’s most recent opera, Prince of Players, was commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera and premiered in 2016. 

Video: “I Yearn So T’Know Things” from Cold Sassy Tree  

Recognition and Legacy

Credited with creating “a distinctly American idiom for opera”, Carlisle has often been recognized for his vital contributions to the field. A recipient of the coveted Guggenheim Fellowship in 1956, he would go on to receive numerous awards for his work in the arts.

“I think anything that is expressed directly and as honestly as possible will last.”

– Carlisle Floyd

Some of the most notable include: 

1957: Citation of Merit from the National Association of American Conductors and Composers

1983: National Opera’s Institute Award for Service to American Opera

2004: National Medal of Arts from the White House

2008: National Endowment for the Arts Opera Honoree

2010: Anton Coppola Excellence in the Arts Award from Opera Tampa

2011: Induction into the South Carolina Hall of Fame

2012: Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Man of Music (the highest honor for a member of the American music fraternity)

2015: Inducted into the Florida Artist Hall of Fame

Video: NEA Opera Honors: Carlisle Floyd Tribute


Spotify Playlist
  1. Susannah, Act II: “The trees on the mountain” (Carlisle Floyd) – Renée Fleming, I Want Magic!
  2. Susannah, Act I: “Ain’t it a pretty night?” (Carlisle Floyd) – Renée Fleming, I Want Magic!
  3. Susannah, Act II: “Hear me, O Lord, I beseech thee” (Carlisle Floyd) – American Classics
  4. “The Mystery” – Carlisle Floyd, Five Songs of Motherhood for Soprano and Orchestra
  5. Susannah, Act I: Opening Music – Carlisle Floyd, Susannah (Opera de Leon)
  6. Prince of Players, Act II: “Howl, Howl, Howl, Howl, Howl!” – Carlisle Floyd, Prince of Players (The Florentine Opera)

Sources

NEA Opera Honors: Interview with Carlisle Floyd

NEA Opera Honors: Phyllis Curtin on Carlisle Floyd 

Innocence and Experience in Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah (San Francisco Opera)

Biography: Carlisle Floyd (Boosey & Hawkes)

FLOYD: Susannah (Opera News)