Opera Singer, Jessye Norman, Goes To Israel To Claim Wolf Prize For Music

0 Posted by - June 30, 2017 - BLACK ART, BLACK MUSIC, BLACK WOMEN, LATEST POSTS, MUSIC

BY WALTER OPINDE

As a musician, your bag of professional tricks has to include a keen sense of timing. But Jessye Norman would probably be the first to admit that she missed her first cue for one of Israel’s most prestigious international award ceremonies.
The 70-year old African-American-born iconic opera singer finally made it to June to accept the coveted Wolf Prize for Music, which she was due to receive in 2015, along with Jewish-American conductor Murray Perahia. She was unable to attend the 2015 ceremony in the Knesset due to poor health. Unlike the Oscars, the rules of the Wolf Prize demand that laureates receive the award in person, hence the one year delay. In fact, Norman almost missed out in 2016. Norman always arrives her destinations as being of noble stature and demeanor, but she surprised many people when they saw her arrive in an electric wheelchair.

All eyes were on Norman, who managed to look regal and decent despite her lack of ambulatory mobility. She was dressed in smart black and white attire, complete with fetching African-style headdress. Norman has always been the most striking of stage performers, eliciting rapturous applause from audiences the world over, as well as a host of official kudos. In 1996, she became the fourth classical singer to receive the Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement, following on the distinguished heels of Enrico Caruso and the heroines of her youth – African American opera singers Marian Anderson and Leontyne Price. In 2010, she received the National Medal of the Arts from President Barack Obama.

Growing up in segregated Augusta, Georgia, Norman didn’t exactly have the whole world in her infant hands from the outset. But she did have music in her life; lots of it. Her father sang in the church choir, and her mother played piano. The youngster’s remarkably powerful fledgling vocals quickly attracted attention and, by the age of four, she was singing gospel songs at the local Baptist church, followed by leading spots at school events and community functions. Her prodigious musical gifts held sway, and she earned a music degree at Howard University in Washington, DC. That followed an impromptu audition there when she was 16. Although she still had a year of high school left, she was offered a full music scholarship. She took her academic musical studies several steps further after graduating from Howard by continuing her studies at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore and at the University of Michigan, where she earned a master’s degree, consolidating her command of music theory and vocal technique.Norman is not only blessed with a dazzling vocal

Norman is not only blessed with a dazzling vocal delivery, but in her exchanges with the IASA (Israel Arts and Science Academy) students and teachers she also came across as a generous soul. She also is very much involved in the education sector. Norman serves on the boards of Carnegie Hall and the New York Public Library, as well as the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the Lupus Foundation and the Partnership for the Homeless. She is also a proud lifetime member of the Girl Scouts of America.Over the past close to half a century, Norman has constantly produced the goods and wowed audiences at Carnegie Hall, La Scala, Covent Garden and the Berlin Opera, to mention but a few in the list of venues. That made her the ideal person to answer a question from a student about how to handle the lateral pressures of maintaining such a successful musical career. Norman was visibly moved by the performance of the school choir conducted by internationally renowned musician and musicologist- Michael Wolpe, as well as a piano recital. Although Norman no longer tours the world as a regular working opera singer, her acclaimed recordings of works by the likes of Wagner, Richard Strauss and Mozart continue to delight, and her warmth and graciousness left all everyone at the IASA feeling enriched by their encounter with one of the true greats of the opera world.

Over the past close to half a century, Norman has constantly produced the goods and wowed audiences at Carnegie Hall, La Scala, Covent Garden and the Berlin Opera, to mention but a few in the list of venues. That made her the ideal person to answer a question from a student about how to handle the lateral pressures of maintaining such a successful musical career. Norman was visibly moved by the performance of the school choir conducted by internationally renowned musician and musicologist- Michael Wolpe, as well as a piano recital. Although Norman no longer tours the world as a regular working opera singer, her acclaimed recordings of works by the likes of Wagner, Richard Strauss and Mozart continue to delight, and her warmth and graciousness left all everyone at the IASA feeling enriched by their encounter with one of the true greats of the opera world.

Read more of the story via:

www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/npr/128168510/jessye-norman-back-to-her-roots

www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Culture/Opera-singer/Jessye/Norman-comes-to-Israel-to-claim-Wolf-Prize-for_music_463140

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