GEORGE SHIRLEY |
One of America's most versatile tenors, George Shirley, has appeared with the Metropolitan Opera (11 seasons), Royal Opera (Covet Garden, London); Deutsche Oper (West Berlin), Teatro Colon (Buenos Aires), Netherlands Opera (Amsterdam), L'Opera MonteCarlo, New York City Opera, Scottish Opera,Chicago Lyric Opera, Michigan and San Francisco Opera companies, among others. He has appeared often with the summer opera festivals at Sante Fe and Glyndebourne.
Throughout his career. Mr. Shirley has performed with the London Symphony (Lorin Maazel), the Boston Symphony (Seije Ozawa), the Chicago Symphony (Georg Solti),the New York Philharmonic (Leonard Bernstein), the Philadelphia Orchestra (Eugene Ormandy), the La Scala Orchestra (Herbert von Karajan), the San Francisco, Los Angeles and the Toronto Orchestras.
Mr. Shirley has been honored by his Alma Mater with both the Wayne State Alumni Association and Arts Achievement Awards, and he holds honorary degrees from Wilberforce University, Montclaire State College, and an honorary doctorate from Lake Forest College. He is a member of Phi Kappa Phi, and Omicron Delta Kappa; he is also a National Patron of Delta Omicron.
Recordings include Stravinsky's "Oedipus Rex" (the composer conducting), "Pulcinella" and "Renard"; Mozart's "Requiem", "Cosi fan Tutti", for which he received a Grammy Award, and "Idomeneo"; Bach's "St. John's Passion"; Debussy's "Pelleas et Melisande" (Peirre Boulez conducting). Mr. Shirley has also recorded for CRI a work commissioned from American Composer James Dashow, and most recently, Handel's "Ode to St. Cecilia" with the Boys' Choir of Harlem.
From 1983, he has appeared annually with the Deutsche Oper in West Berlin as Pluton in "Orpheus in the Underworld" and as Loge in "Das Rheingold". With Deutsches Oper he also toured in Japan in 1987 performing in Yokohama and Tokyo, as well as in Washington, at Kennedy Center, in 1989.
In current years Mr. Shirley appeared with orchestra in Ann Arbor, at the Aspen Festival, and in recitals at Carnegie Hall, and Alice Tully Hall in New York, in Mississippi and St. Louis and with the Collegiate Choral in New York's Carnegie Hall, which was recorded, performed a recital as well as appear with the orchestra at Wesleyan College in Connecticut, and returned to Berlin for performances with the Deutsche Oper. He also appeared in the 100th anniversary celebration of the Opera House in Aspen, and with the famed Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Salt Lake City, which was televised world-wide.
He performances of chamber music include Ralph Vaughan Williams' "On Wenlock Edge" a 1909 setting of poems by A.E. Houseman in which sung text is not so much accompanied but rather supported, echoed, paraphrased by string quartet and piano. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch report of his performance with the Quartet Oklahoma stressed the refinement of "Shirley's extraordinarily dynamic, extraordinarily gripping performance."
His world premiere performance of Loretta Jankowski's "Patterson Songs" was given with the New Jersey Chamber Music Society in 1984 and repeated in 1985.
Mr. Shirley served as host for "Unheard, Unsung" a four-program series on WETA-FM on Black History Month.
His lecture-recital on the life and works of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was repeated for the Michigan Society of Fellows and his collection of Black American Art Songs have an impact historically on audiences everywhere. His outstanding interpretation of Roland Hayes' arrangements of spirituals are always a highlight of his recitals.
Recent concert performances include a world premiere performance of Warren Swenson's "Battlepieces", a new 30-minute work written to the poetry of Herman Melville. Mr. Shirley was accompanied by William Balcom in Jefferson City and in Ann Arbor.
Recent opera performances include "The Tzar's Bride" for the Washington Opera, "King Roger" with the Michigan Opera Theatre in Detroit, and Greater Buffalo Opera, the role of Herod in"Salome" with the Greater Buffalo Opera, and the narration of Mark Neikrug's "Los Alamos" at the Aspen Festival.
He was names the Joseph Edgar Maddy Distinguished University Professor of Music at the University of Michigan, and was inducted into the Vocal Hall of Fame at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia.
A new recording "The Spirit of St. Louis" with music by Franz Waxman, poetry by John Forsyth with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester conducted by Lawrence Foster and narrated by George Shirley has recently been released on the Capriccio label #10711. This commemorates the 70th anniversary of Lindbergh's flight in 1997.