Marilyn Horne: Her Song Continues

Classic Arts Features   Marilyn Horne: Her Song Continues
The Weill Music Institute and the Marilyn Horne Foundation present a festival of voice recitals this month, culminating in a Jan. 22 Dames at C concert featuring Kathleen Kim. Horne discusses her foundation and this year's program.


Marilyn Horne needs little introduction. For well over 30 years, her unmistakable sound: with its soaring highs and cavernous lows, melded with an impeccable coloratura technique and extraordinary ability to communicate: have made her one of the vocal wonders of the world.

In 1993, Horne (who had already performed over 1,300 recitals) grew concerned about decreasing recital opportunities for young singers in the United States. She founded the Marilyn Horne Foundation to ensure that "the vocal recital remains a viable and living art form in this country."

From January 19 _22, Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute and the Marilyn Horne Foundation co-present the four-day festival, The Song Continues ..., at Carnegie Hall. The Weill Music Institute assumes responsibility for the foundation's core programs, including the festival, the following July.

In late November, when Horne was finally able to pause between teaching commitments and her work at the Music Academy of the West, she chatted with Jason Victor Serinus by phone from her apartment in New York City.

Jason Victor Serinus: Why have you chosen Carnegie Hall to continue your foundation's work?

Marilyn Horne: We've had a wonderful partnership presenting The Song Continues ... with Carnegie Hall since 2004. And my personal relationship with Carnegie Hall is almost 50 years old. My first performance there was in 1961, when I was 27. I feel a real closeness to Carnegie Hall.

JVS: What have you accomplished in these past 15 years?

MH: The foundation has done enormously well, and we have established a fabulous reputation, for which I'm very proud. We've definitely put the spotlight on the art of the recital. I can tell you from my experience, because I have residencies around the country where I teach for a week, that students are fully aware of the foundation. They all want to sing for the foundation and do its recitals.

JVS: What is special to you about the program this year?

MH: Every program is special to me. The fact that we are able to put together a major gala evening, which is also our major fundraiser and annual recital, is significant. Last year we went all out to have a major fundraiser around my 75th birthday, which we also did around my 60th when the foundation was first established. Oh, to be 60 again ...

JVS: Is it unusual to end up with four sopranos, as you have planned for this year's annual recital?

MH: Yes. I thought of artists we've had over the years who we really love, and the idea came to just focus on sopranos: namely Kerry Alkema, Elaine Alvarez, Amanda Majeski, and Jennifer Zetlan. Then our Executive Director, Barbara Hocher, thought up the perky title, Dames at "C."

JVS: What about the other components of the festival?

MH: All of the duo recitals: past, present, and future: are fabulous. We have made the ticket prices so ridiculously low: it's only $5 to come to one of those.

JVS: And your singers are fast establishing themselves on the world stage.

MH: It's really so exciting. I just get my jollies from seeing all these wonderful artists do so well.

JVS: That must make you very proud.

MH: Oh, very. When I went to the Met's Doctor Atomic, I had to laugh because I coached four of the singers either in master classes or privately.

JVS: What about The Song Continues ... master classes?

MH: I do one each year because I like to do them. But we also have James Levine, who's done many for us and doesn't do them anywhere else, and Warren Jones, who is absolutely one of the great accompanists in the whole world and a master teacher of singers and pianists. He's a brilliant guy, let's face it, and has a marvelous personality. He's also at the Music Academy in Santa Barbara, where people line up for his classes. As far as I'm concerned, these are three top master classes that the whole world would like to have.

JVS: If someone who is new to art song picks up this program and reads about these four days, what would you say to them about how to find their way in?

MH: I would say, "What's the big deal? Just go in and try and see if you like it. Just go stick your big toe in the water. I think it could open up a whole new world."


The Song Continues ...

Tuesday, January 19 at 5:30 PM
Weill Recital Hall

Tuesday, January 19 at 7:30 PM
Zankel Hall

Wednesday, January 20 at 5:30 PM
Weill Recital Hall

Wednesday, January 20 at 7:30 PM
Weill Recital Hall

Thursday, January 21 at 7:30 PM
Weill Recital Hall

Friday, January 22 at 7:30 PM
Zankel Hall

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