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Marian Anderson Award

A History of The Marian Anderson Award

photo of Marian AndersonThe Award, first bestowed in 1989 by the Marian Anderson Award Foundation, is given to "an American singer of great promise who has already achieved some success in opera, in recital, and in the orchestra/oratorio repertory." In 1996, in order to perpetuate Marian Anderson's name and her musical and humanitarian accomplishments, The Marian Anderson Award Fund was established at The Fairfield County Community Foundation by the Marian Anderson Award Foundation under the leadership of June Goodman of Danbury, Connecticut – a neighbor and friend of Ms. Anderson.

In September 2002 The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and The Fairfield County Community Foundation initiated a joint collaboration to create a permanent tribute to the historic and artistic achievements of Marian Anderson by presenting a cash award every other year. Award recipients are selected in the spring of the even numbered years and receive the award and perform in recital at the Kennedy Center in the fall of that year.

At this historic event Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser said, "The programs of the Kennedy Center, the nation's center for the performing arts, gain further distinction with the addition of this distinguished award in the name of Marian Anderson, whose life and career stands as an example to all young artists. One of the greatest of American singers, she followed her muse with steadfast courage, and by force of her personality, will, and talent, changed perceptions and opened the door to success for others."

The Marian Anderson Award Recipients

Prior award recipients have been Sylvia McNair, Denyce Graves, Philip Zawisza, Nancy Maultsby, Patricia Racette, Michelle DeYoung, Nathan Gunn, Marguerite Krull, Eric Owens, Lawrence Brownlee, Indira Mahajan, Sasha Cooke, and J'nai Bridges.

2014 Marian Anderson Award Recipient

Jamie Barton. phot by Jonathan Timms

2014 Marian Anderson Award Recipient is Jamie Barton – mezzo soprano –  a winner of both the Main and the Song Prize at the 2013 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, a winner of the 2007 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and a Grammy nominee.

Described by The Guardian as "a great artist, no question, with an imperturbable steadiness of tone, and a nobility of utterance that invites comparison not so much with her contemporaries as with mid-20th century greats such as Kirsten Flagstad".

Her appearance as Adalgisa in Norma at the Metropolitan Opera won her critical acclaim in the opera world – "But the night belonged to Jamie Barton…a sensitive, attentive artist with a stunning and flexible sound. As the guilt-ridden, errant young priestess Adalgisa, Barton carved her short opening arioso and prayer with detail and genuine presence". Judith Malafronte, New York Classical Review, October 25, 2013.

The 2013-2014 season includes returns to Houston Grand Opera as Fricka in Das Rheingold, to Opera Memphis for Katisha in The Mikado, and Meg Page in Falstaff with Fabio Luisi at the Saito Kinen Festival in Japan. In concert Ms. Barton sang the Verdi Requiem with the Melbourne Symphony and Sir Andrew Davis, Britten's Spring Symphony with the Cleveland Orchestra and Franz Welser-Möst.  Further concerts include Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde with the Bilkent Symphony in Turkey, his Symphony No. 3 in Reykjavik, concerts with the Metropolitan Opera in the Parks, a commercial recording of Duruflé's Requiem in Paris and a series of concerts at the Oregon Bach Festival.

The 2012-2013 season saw her return to the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Magdalene in a new production of Die Meistersinger conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. Ms. Barton had made her debut at the Lyric in productions of Les Contes d'Hoffman (voice of the Mother), Boris Godunov (Nurse), and Ariadne auf Naxos (Dryade). In concert Ms. Barton made her UK debut at the Barbican Centre performing Elgar's Sea Pictures with the London Schools Symphony Orchestra (a piece she repeated at the end of the season at the Aspen Music Festival). With the Atlanta Sacred Chorale and the Orchestra of St. Luke's at Carnegie Hall she sang Mozart's Requiem and performed a Concert of Verdi Arias and Ensembles at the Lanaudière Festival with Jean-Marie Zeitouni.

A former member of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, Ms. Barton appeared as Ursula in Béatrice et Bénédict, Giovanna in Rigoletto, and Mary Norton in the world premiere of André Previn's Brief Encounter. A graduate of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, Ms. Barton attended Indiana University in Bloomington where she performed roles such as Tisbe in La Cenerentola, Buttercup in HMS Pinafore, and Mrs. Soames in the 2006 world premiere of Ned Rorem's Our Town.

"After almost two hours of singing, Barton left us with a surprising encore: "Never Neverland." It was a nod to Mary Martin and the reference to Barton's very first public solo at the age of six, the song "Tender Shepherd" from the musical Peter Pan. Barton began her musical journey listening to her dad's record collection – the Beatles, the Grateful Dead and bluegrass – learning from him what to listen for in music. And when she enrolled at Shorter [College], her intention was to major in musical theatre. But fate intervened. "I discovered that I couldn't dance," says Barton.

While it's unlikely that Barton will ever sing on Broadway like Mary Martin, her operatic career might take her miles beyond the moon" Stephanie Adrian, Arts ATL, November 2013.

Ms. Barton will appear in recital at the Terrace Theater at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Monday October 6, 2014. The recital is part of Performing Arts for Everyone (PAFE) and is, like all their performances, free and open to the general public.

Guidelines of The Marian Anderson Award

The Selection Committee will review and select the recipient of the Marian Anderson Award. Artists are nominated by opera companies, orchestral and choral organizations, agents, professional music critics and other organizations across the country. A cash award of $10,000.00 comes from the Marian Anderson Award Fund at the Fairfield County Community Foundation.

To Submit an Artist for the Marian Anderson Award

Submission of artists to be considered for the 2016 Marian Anderson Award should be received at the Kennedy Center by January 31, 2016. Artists will not be chosen by live audition and candidates may not nominate themselves. The materials required for the submission of an artist should include: a letter of recommendation, a head shot, a resume, and a high quality CD recording of the candidate representing her/his best vocal ability. All materials should be sent to: the Marian Anderson Award, c/o the John F. Kennedy Center for the performing Arts, 2700 F Street, NW, Washington DC 20566. Protect photographs with cardboard, and it is recommended that the materials be sent via FedEx, UPS, or hand delivered as regularly delivered US Postal Service mail is intercepted for security purposes and typically damaged in the process. For further information please call 202.416.8081.

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