Bard News & Events

Press Release

Bard Faculty Member and Celebrated Soprano Dawn Upshaw Named MacArthur Fellow

Mark Primoff
Dawn Upshaw, celebrated soprano and artistic director of Bard College Conservatory of Music’s Graduate Program in Vocal Arts, has been named a MacArthur Fellow for 2007.  Image Credit: Dario Acosta
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—Dawn Upshaw, celebrated soprano and artistic director of Bard College Conservatory of Music’s Graduate Program in Vocal Arts, has been named a MacArthur Fellow for 2007. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced Upshaw as one of 24 new fellows, selected for their creativity, originality, and potential to make important contributions in the future. Recipients each receive $500,000 in “no strings attached” support over the next five years. Upshaw is the 10th Bard faculty member to be honored with a MacArthur Fellowship. “We are thrilled at this recognition of Dawn Upshaw’s artistry and path-breaking accomplishments, and fortunate to be able to give our students the opportunity to work with her,” says Robert Martin, vice president for academic affairs and director of The Bard College Conservatory of Music. Joining a rare natural warmth with a fierce commitment to the transforming, communicative power of music, Dawn Upshaw has achieved worldwide celebrity as a singer of opera and concert repertoire, ranging from the sacred works of Bach to the freshest contemporary sounds. Her ability to reach to the heart of music and text has earned her both the devotion of an exceptionally diverse audience and the awards and distinctions accorded to the most distinguished of artists. Her acclaimed performances on the opera stage comprise the great Mozart roles (Pamina, Ilia, Susanna, Despina) as well as modern works by Stravinsky, Poulenc, and Messiaen. From Salzburg, Paris, and Glyndebourne to the Metropolitan Opera (where she began her career in 1984 and has since made nearly 300 appearances), Upshaw has also championed new works created for her, including The Great Gatsby by John Harbison; the Grawemeyer Award–winning opera L’Amour de Loin by Kaija Saariaho; John Adams’s nativity oratorio El Niño; and Osvaldo Golijov’s chamber opera Ainadamar and song cycle Ayre, both newly recorded on Deutsche Grammophon. Upshaw’s sensibilities as an artist and colleague make her a favored partner of many leading musicians, including Richard Goode, the Kronos Quartet, James Levine, Sir Simon Rattle, and Salonen. In her work as a recitalist, and particularly in her work with composers, Upshaw has become a generative force in concert music, having premiered more than 25 works in the past decade. From Carnegie Hall to large and small venues throughout the world, she regularly presents specially designed programs composed of lieder, unusual contemporary works in many languages, and folk and popular music. She furthers this work in master classes and workshops with young singers at major music festivals, conservatories, and liberal arts colleges. She is also a member of the faculty at the Tanglewood Music Center. A four-time Grammy Award winner, Upshaw is featured on more than 50 recordings, including the million-selling Symphony No. 3 by Henryk Gorecki. Her discography also includes full-length opera recordings of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro; Messiaen’s St. Francoise d’Assise; Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress; Adams’s El Niño; two volumes of Canteloube’s Songs of the Auvergne, and a dozen recital recordings. Upshaw has also recorded several beloved Nonesuch CDs of musical theater repertoire, which she has sung with the Chicago Symphony and the Cleveland and Philadelphia orchestras, as well as at London’s Proms Festival and on radio and television. She was the subject of a one-hour profile on Bravo, Intimate Collaborations, and has been featured on numerous PBS and NPR programs. Upshaw holds honorary doctoral degrees from Yale University, the Manhattan School of Music, Allegheny College, and Illinois Wesleyan University. She began her career as a winner of the Young Concert Artists Auditions and the Walter W. Naumburg Competition, and was a member of the Metropolitan Opera Young Artists Development Program. At Bard College she is Charles Franklin Kellogg and Grace E. Ramsey Kellogg Professor of the Arts and Humanities. # About The Bard College Conservatory of Music Building on its distinguished history in the arts and education, Bard College has launched The Bard College Conservatory of Music, which welcomed its first class in August 2005. This innovative, double-degree program is guided by the principle that musicians should be broadly educated in the liberal arts and sciences to achieve their greatest potential. While training and studying for the bachelor of music degree with world-class musicians and teachers and performing in state-of-the art facilities, such as the Frank Gehry–designed Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, Conservatory students also pursue a bachelor of arts degree at Bard, one of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges. Robert Martin serves as director of the Conservatory, Melvin Chen as associate director. The Conservatory also includes the Graduate Program in Vocal Arts, directed by Dawn Upshaw, and The Conductors Institute and its Graduate Program in Conducting, directed by Harold Farberman. For more information about The Bard College Conservatory of Music, call 845-758-7196, e-mail, or log onto the program’s website, About The MacArthur Fellowship The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is a private, independent grantmaking institution dedicated to building a more just and sustainable world. With an endowment over $6.1 billion, the foundation makes grants totaling approximately $225 million each year. The MacArthur Fellowships offer the opportunity for fellows to accelerate their current activities or take their work in new directions. The unusual level of independence afforded to fellows underscores the spirit of freedom intrinsic to creative endeavors. The extraordinary creativity of MacArthur Fellows knows neither boundaries nor the constraints of age, place, and endeavor. The inaugural class of MacArthur Fellows was named in 1981. Including this year’s fellows, 756 people, ranging in age from 18 to 82 at the time of their selection, have been named MacArthur Fellows since the inception of the program. The selection process begins with formal nominations. Hundreds of anonymous nominators assist the foundation in identifying people to be considered for a MacArthur Fellowship. Nominations are accepted only from invited nominators, a list that is constantly renewed throughout the year. They are chosen from many fields and challenged to identify people who demonstrate exceptional creativity and promise. A 12-member selection committee, whose members also serve anonymously, meets regularly to review files, narrow the list, and make final recommendations to the foundation’s board of directors. The number of fellows selected each year is not fixed; typically, it varies between 20 and 25. For more information go to: ###

back to top

This event was last updated on 03-18-2008