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Dawn Upshaw

Dawn Upshaw

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Dawn Upshaw is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 soprano
Soprano
A soprano is a voice type with a vocal range from approximately middle C to "high A" in choral music, or to "soprano C" or higher in operatic music. In four-part chorale style harmony, the soprano takes the highest part, which usually encompasses the melody...

  described as "one of the most consequential performers of our time" by the Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Times is a daily newspaper published in Los Angeles, California, since 1881. It was the second-largest metropolitan newspaper in circulation in the United States in 2008 and the fourth most widely distributed newspaper in the country....

. The recipient of several Grammy Awards and Edison Prize-winning discs, Upshaw is at home both in opera
Opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

 and art song
Art song
An art song is a vocal music composition, usually written for one voice with piano or orchestral accompaniment. By extension, the term "art song" is used to refer to the genre of such songs....

, and in repertoire from Baroque
Baroque music
Baroque music describes a style of Western Classical music approximately extending from 1600 to 1760. This era follows the Renaissance and was followed in turn by the Classical era...

 to contemporary. Many composers, including Osvaldo Golijov
Osvaldo Golijov
Osvaldo Noé Golijov is a Grammy award–winning composer of classical music.-Biography:Osvaldo Golijov was born in and grew up in La Plata, Argentina, in a Jewish family that had emigrated to Argentina in the 1920s from Romania and Russia.Golijov has developed a rich musical language, the result of...

, John Harbison
John Harbison
John Harris Harbison is an American composer, best known for his operas and large choral works.-Life:...

, Esa-Pekka Salonen
Esa-Pekka Salonen
Esa-Pekka Salonen is a Finnish orchestral conductor and composer. He is currently Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London and Conductor Laureate of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.-Early career:...

, John Adams, and Kaija Saariaho
Kaija Saariaho
Kaija Saariaho is a Finnish composer.Kaija Saariaho studied composition in Helsinki, Freiburg and Paris, where she has lived since 1982. Her studies and research at IRCAM have had a major influence on her music and her characteristically luxuriant and mysterious textures are often created by...

, have written for her, and her artistic achievements are extensive. In 2007 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship.

Overview


Upshaw was born in Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville is the capital of the U.S. state of Tennessee and the county seat of Davidson County. It is located on the Cumberland River in Davidson County, in the north-central part of the state. The city is a center for the health care, publishing, banking and transportation industries, and is home...

. She began her vocal career as a talented Rich East High School singer in Park Forest, Illinois
Park Forest, Illinois
Park Forest is a village located south of Chicago in Cook County and Will County, Illinois, United States. As of the 2000 census, the village had a total population of 23,462...

 and later attended Interlochen Arts Academy. Upshaw received a B.A. in 1982 from Illinois Wesleyan University
Illinois Wesleyan University
Illinois Wesleyan University is an independent undergraduate university located in Bloomington, Illinois. Founded in 1850, the central portion of the present campus was acquired in 1854 with the first building erected in 1856...

, where she studied voice with the late Dr. David Nott. She went on to study voice with Ellen Faull
Ellen Faull
Ellen Hartla Faull was an American operatic soprano and distinguished voice teacher. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she was primarily associated with New York City Opera, where she sang from 1947 until 1978 and created the role of Abigail Borden in Jack Beeson's opera Lizzie Borden in its 1965...

 at the Manhattan School of Music
Manhattan School of Music
The Manhattan School of Music is a major music conservatory located on the Upper West Side of New York City. The school offers degrees on the bachelors, masters, and doctoral levels in the areas of classical and jazz performance and composition...

 in New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, earning her M.M. in 1984. She also attended courses given by Jan DeGaetani
Jan DeGaetani
Jan DeGaetani was an American mezzo-soprano known for her performances of contemporary classical vocal compositions.DeGaetani was born in Massillon, Ohio...

 at the Aspen (Colorado) Music School. She was a winner of the Young Concert Artists International Auditions (1984) and the Walter M. Naumburg Competition
Walter W. Naumburg Foundation
The Walter W. Naumburg Foundation sponsors competitions and provides awards for young classical musicians in North America. It was founded in 1925 by Walter Wehle Naumburg, a wealthy amateur cellist and son of noted New York music patron and philanthropist Elkan Naumburg. Elkan Naumburg, owner of...

 (1985), and was a member of the Metropolitan Opera
Metropolitan Opera
The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company, located in New York City. Originally founded in 1880, the company gave its first performance on October 22, 1883. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager...

 Young Artists Development Program. Since her start in 1984, Upshaw has made more than 300 appearances at the Metropolitan Opera
Metropolitan Opera
The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company, located in New York City. Originally founded in 1880, the company gave its first performance on October 22, 1883. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager...

.

Upshaw came to international fame with her million-selling recording (1993), with David Zinman
David Zinman
David Zinman is an American conductor and violinist.After early violin studies at the Oberlin Conservatory, Zinman studied theory and composition at the University of Minnesota and took up conducting at Tanglewood...

, of the hauntingly powerful Symphony No 3
Symphony No. 3 (Górecki)
The Symphony No. 3, Op. 36, also known as the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs , is a symphony in three movements composed by Henryk Górecki in Katowice, Poland, between October and December 1976. The work is indicative of the transition between Górecki's dissonant earlier manner and his more tonal...

 by Henryk Górecki
Henryk Górecki
Henryk Mikołaj Górecki was a composer of contemporary classical music. He studied at the State Higher School of Music in Katowice between 1955 and 1960. In 1968, he joined the faculty and rose to provost before resigning in 1979. Górecki became a leading figure of the Polish avant-garde during...

, known as the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs (Symfonia pieśni żałosnych).

In the past decade she has premiered more than 25 new works and has embraced several works created for her, including the Grawemeyer Award
Grawemeyer Award
The Grawemeyer Awards are five awards given annually by the University of Louisville in the state of Kentucky, United States. The prizes are presented to individuals in the fields of education, ideas improving world order, music composition, religion, and psychology...

-winning opera L’Amour de Loin by Kaija Saariaho
Kaija Saariaho
Kaija Saariaho is a Finnish composer.Kaija Saariaho studied composition in Helsinki, Freiburg and Paris, where she has lived since 1982. Her studies and research at IRCAM have had a major influence on her music and her characteristically luxuriant and mysterious textures are often created by...

, The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby (opera)
The Great Gatsby is an opera in two acts written by American composer John Harbison. The libretto, also by Harbison, was adapted from the novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Additional popular song lyrics were by Murray Horwitz...

by John Harbison
John Harbison
John Harris Harbison is an American composer, best known for his operas and large choral works.-Life:...

, the nativity oratorio
Oratorio
An oratorio is a large musical composition including an orchestra, a choir, and soloists. Like an opera, an oratorio includes the use of a choir, soloists, an ensemble, various distinguishable characters, and arias...

 El Niño
El Niño (oratorio)
El Niño is an opera-oratorio by the American composer John Adams. It was premiered on December 15, 2000 at Paris's Théâtre du Châtelet by the Deutsches Symphony Orchestra, the London Voices, the Theater of Voices, La Maîtrise de Paris and soloists Dawn Upshaw, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson and Willard...

by John Adams, and Osvaldo Golijov's
Osvaldo Golijov
Osvaldo Noé Golijov is a Grammy award–winning composer of classical music.-Biography:Osvaldo Golijov was born in and grew up in La Plata, Argentina, in a Jewish family that had emigrated to Argentina in the 1920s from Romania and Russia.Golijov has developed a rich musical language, the result of...

 highly acclaimed chamber opera
Chamber opera
Chamber opera is a designation for operas written to be performed with a chamber ensemble rather than a full orchestra.The term and form were invented by Benjamin Britten in the 1940s, when the English Opera Group needed works that could easily be taken on tour and performed in a variety of small...

 Ainadamar
Ainadamar
Ainadamar means "Fountain of Tears" in Arabic, and is the first opera by Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov. The libretto is by American playwright David Henry Hwang. It premiered in Tanglewood on August 10, 2003. After major revisions, the new version premiered at the Santa Fe Opera on July 30,...

and song cycle
Song cycle
A song cycle is a group of songs designed to be performed in a sequence as a single entity. As a rule, all of the songs are by the same composer and often use words from the same poet or lyricist. Unification can be achieved by a narrative or a persona common to the songs, or even, as in Schumann's...

 Ayre. In 2009 she premiered David Bruce's
David Bruce (composer)
David Bruce is a British-American composer.Bruce began his undergraduate studies in music in 1988 at Nottingham University , before moving on to the Royal College of Music where he obtained a Masters Degree in Composition, studying with Tim Salter and George Benjamin; and a PhD in Composition at...

 song cycle The North Wind was a Woman at the gala opening of the Chamber Music Society of the Lincoln Centre's season.

Some feel that her rendition of Golijov's Ayre made her almost seem a charismatic rock-singer. It is a tribute to her vocal range, as well as her star-stature, that she has moved out of the traditional role of a classical singer. In addition to her operatic recordings, she has also sung the title role in the first complete recording of the score of Gershwin's Oh, Kay!
Oh, Kay!
Oh, Kay! is a musical with music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and a book by Guy Bolton and P. G. Wodehouse. It is based on the play La Presidente by Maurice Hanniquin and Pierre Veber. The plot revolves around the adventures of the Duke of Durham and his sister, Lady Kay, English...

.

She has also recorded albums of songs by Vernon Duke
Vernon Duke
Vernon Duke was a Russian-American composer/songwriter, who also wrote under his original name Vladimir Dukelsky. He is best known for "Taking a Chance on Love" with lyrics by Ted Fetter and John Latouche, "I Can't Get Started" with lyrics by Ira Gershwin, "April in Paris" with lyrics by E. Y...

 and Rodgers and Hart
Rodgers and Hart
Rodgers and Hart were an American songwriting partnership of composer Richard Rodgers and the lyricist Lorenz Hart...

. Upshaw was a guest of President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 and Mrs. Clinton on the NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 special, Christmas in Washington. The BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 presented a prime-time telecast of her 1996 London Proms Concert, "Dawn at Dusk", in which she performed songs from the American musical theater. Her engagements with James Levine
James Levine
James Lawrence Levine is an American conductor and pianist. He is currently the music director of the Metropolitan Opera and former music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Levine's first performance conducting the Metropolitan Opera was on June 5, 1971, and as of May 2011 he has...

 over the years led to a 1997 recording of Debussy
Claude Debussy
Claude-Achille Debussy was a French composer. Along with Maurice Ravel, he was one of the most prominent figures working within the field of impressionist music, though he himself intensely disliked the term when applied to his compositions...

 songs.

She tours regularly with piano accompanist Richard Goode
Richard Goode
Richard Goode is an American classical pianist, especially known for his interpretations of Ludwig van Beethoven and chamber music.Goode was born in East Bronx, New York...

. Margo Garrett and Gilbert Kalish
Gilbert Kalish
Gilbert Kalish is an American pianist.He was born in New York and studied with Leonard Shure, Julius Hereford and Isabelle Vengerova. He was a founding member of the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, a pioneering new music group that flourished during the 1960s and '70s...

 are also long-standing partners. She has worked with the director Peter Sellars
Peter Sellars
Peter Sellars is an American theatre director, noted for his unique contemporary stagings of classical and contemporary operas and plays...

 many times, including his staging of Händel
HANDEL
HANDEL was the code-name for the UK's National Attack Warning System in the Cold War. It consisted of a small console consisting of two microphones, lights and gauges. The reason behind this was to provide a back-up if anything failed....

's Theodora at Glyndebourne
Glyndebourne Festival Opera
Glyndebourne Festival Opera is an English opera festival held at Glyndebourne, an English country house near Lewes, in East Sussex, England.-History:...

, his Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 production of Stravinsky
Igor Stravinsky
Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky ; 6 April 1971) was a Russian, later naturalized French, and then naturalized American composer, pianist, and conductor....

's The Rake's Progress
The Rake's Progress
The Rake's Progress is an opera in three acts and an epilogue by Igor Stravinsky. The libretto, written by W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman, is based loosely on the eight paintings and engravings A Rake's Progress of William Hogarth, which Stravinsky had seen on May 2, 1947, in a Chicago...

(as part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic
Los Angeles Philharmonic
The Los Angeles Philharmonic is an American orchestra based in Los Angeles, California, United States. It has a regular season of concerts from October through June at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and a summer season at the Hollywood Bowl from July through September...

 and Esa-Pekka Salonen
Esa-Pekka Salonen
Esa-Pekka Salonen is a Finnish orchestral conductor and composer. He is currently Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London and Conductor Laureate of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.-Early career:...

's month-long residency at the Théâtre du Châtelet
Théâtre du Châtelet
The Théâtre du Châtelet is a theatre and opera house, located in the place du Châtelet in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, France.One of two theatres built on the site of a châtelet, a small castle or fortress, it was designed by Gabriel Davioud at the request of Baron Haussmann between 1860 and...

) (1996), a staging of Bach's cantata BWV 199, presented in the 1995-96 season at New York's 92nd Street Y
92nd Street Y
92nd Street Y is a multifaceted cultural institution and community center located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City, United States, at the corner of E. 92nd Street and Lexington Avenue. Its full name is 92nd Street Young Men's and Young Women's Hebrew Association...

, and the Salzburg Festival
Salzburg Festival
The Salzburg Festival is a prominent festival of music and drama established in 1920. It is held each summer within the Austrian town of Salzburg, the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart...

 production of Olivier Messiaen
Olivier Messiaen
Olivier Messiaen was a French composer, organist and ornithologist, one of the major composers of the 20th century. His music is rhythmically complex ; harmonically and melodically it is based on modes of limited transposition, which he abstracted from his early compositions and improvisations...

's Saint François d'Assise (1998). Ms. Upshaw has often performed as a soloist at the annual Ojai Music Festival
Ojai Music Festival
The Ojai Music Festival is an annual classical music festival in the United States. Held in Ojai, California for four days every June, the festival presents music, symposia, and educational programs emphasizing adventurous, eclectic, and challenging music, principally by contemporary composers...

 in Ojai, CA; most recently in 2006, 2008 and 2009.

Dawn Upshaw joined the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra , based in Saint Paul, Minnesota, is the United States' only full-time professional chamber orchestra...

 as Artistic Partner beginning with the 2007-08 season, and she is Artistic Director of the Graduate Program in Vocal Arts at the Bard College Conservatory of Music
Bard College Conservatory of Music
The Bard College Conservatory of Music is a program of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. Founded in 2005, the program is unique among music conservatories in the United States in that all undergraduate students are required to participate in a five-year dual-degree program, in which...

, which accepted its first students in the 2006-2007 academic year. She also is a faculty member at the Tanglewood Music Center
Tanglewood Music Center
The Tanglewood Music Center is an annual summer music academy in Lenox, Massachusetts, United States, in which emerging professional musicians participate in performances, master classes and workshops designed to provide an intense training and networking experience...

.

She holds honorary Doctor of Arts
Doctor of Arts
The Doctor of Arts is a discipline-based terminal doctoral degree that was originally conceived and designed to be an alternative to the traditional research-based Doctor of Philosophy and the education-based Doctor of Education . Like other doctorates, the D.A. is an academic degree of the...

, honoris causa, from Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

, the Manhattan School of Music
Manhattan School of Music
The Manhattan School of Music is a major music conservatory located on the Upper West Side of New York City. The school offers degrees on the bachelors, masters, and doctoral levels in the areas of classical and jazz performance and composition...

, Illinois Wesleyan University
Illinois Wesleyan University
Illinois Wesleyan University is an independent undergraduate university located in Bloomington, Illinois. Founded in 1850, the central portion of the present campus was acquired in 1854 with the first building erected in 1856...

 and Allegheny College
Allegheny College
Allegheny College is a private liberal arts college located in northwestern Pennsylvania in the town of Meadville. Founded in 1815, the college has about 2,100 undergraduate students.-Early history:...

.

Upshaw is divorced and a mother of two. She lives near New York
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

.

Upshaw was diagnosed with and treated for early-stage breast cancer
Breast cancer
Breast cancer is cancer originating from breast tissue, most commonly from the inner lining of milk ducts or the lobules that supply the ducts with milk. Cancers originating from ducts are known as ductal carcinomas; those originating from lobules are known as lobular carcinomas...

 in 2006.

Awards and recognitions


2007 MacArthur Fellow

2006 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording:
  • The Atlanta Symphony and Chorus with Dawn Upshaw for Golijov
    Osvaldo Golijov
    Osvaldo Noé Golijov is a Grammy award–winning composer of classical music.-Biography:Osvaldo Golijov was born in and grew up in La Plata, Argentina, in a Jewish family that had emigrated to Argentina in the 1920s from Romania and Russia.Golijov has developed a rich musical language, the result of...

    : Ainadamar (Fountain of Tears)

2003 Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance:
  • The Kronos Quartet
    Kronos Quartet
    Kronos Quartet is a string quartet founded by violinist David Harrington in 1973 in Seattle, Washington. Since 1978, the quartet has been based in San Francisco, California. The longest-running combination of performers had Harrington and John Sherba on violin, Hank Dutt on viola, and Joan...

     & Dawn Upshaw for Berg
    Alban Berg
    Alban Maria Johannes Berg was an Austrian composer. He was a member of the Second Viennese School with Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern, and produced compositions that combined Mahlerian Romanticism with a personal adaptation of Schoenberg's twelve-tone technique.-Early life:Berg was born in...

    : Lyric Suite

1991 Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Soloist:
  • Dawn Upshaw, artist for The Girl with Orange Lips (Falla
    Falla
    Falla is a locality situated in Finspång Municipality, Östergötland County, Sweden with 463 inhabitants in 2005....

    , Ravel, etc.)

1989 Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Soloist:
  • Dawn Upshaw, artist for Knoxville: Summer of 1915
    Knoxville: Summer of 1915
    Knoxville: Summer of 1915 is a 1947 work for voice and orchestra by Samuel Barber. The text is taken from a 1938 short prose piece by James Agee...

     (Music of Barber
    Samuel Barber
    Samuel Osborne Barber II was an American composer of orchestral, opera, choral, and piano music. His Adagio for Strings is his most popular composition and widely considered a masterpiece of modern classical music...

    , Menotti, Harbison
    John Harbison
    John Harris Harbison is an American composer, best known for his operas and large choral works.-Life:...

    , Stravinsky)

Works (selection)

  • 1992: Symphony No. 3
    Symphony No. 3 (Górecki)
    The Symphony No. 3, Op. 36, also known as the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs , is a symphony in three movements composed by Henryk Górecki in Katowice, Poland, between October and December 1976. The work is indicative of the transition between Górecki's dissonant earlier manner and his more tonal...

     (Henryk Górecki
    Henryk Górecki
    Henryk Mikołaj Górecki was a composer of contemporary classical music. He studied at the State Higher School of Music in Katowice between 1955 and 1960. In 1968, he joined the faculty and rose to provost before resigning in 1979. Górecki became a leading figure of the Polish avant-garde during...

    ), Nonesuch
    Nonesuch Records
    Nonesuch Records is an American record label, owned by Warner Music Group and distributed by Warner Bros. Records.-Company history:Nonesuch was founded in 1964 by Jac Holzman to produce "fine records at the same price as a trade paperback", which would be half the price of a normal LP...

    /Elektra Records 79282

External links