Author Alex Ross, winner of a 2008 MacArthur Fellowship and longtime music critic for The New Yorker, will address the graduates and receive the George Peabody Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Music in America during the Peabody Conservatory’s 2020 Commencement ceremony, which will be held online on Wednesday, May 20. More…
Dean Fred Bronstein announced this morning that Jessye Norman will be this year’s recipient of the George Peabody Medal. Norman joins a prestigious list of vocalists and past recipients of the medal including Ella Fitzgerald, Marilyn Horne, and Bobby McFerrin. The award, established in 1980, is the Institute’s highest honor awarded for outstanding contributions in the field of music.
Dean Bronstein’s message to the campus community is excerpted below:
One of the most celebrated and accomplished artists of our time, Jessye Norman is known as much for her independence and intelligence as for her majestic voice. Since her 1969 operatic debut as Elisabeth in Tannhäuser at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, she has crafted a career of extraordinary depth and variety, singing recitals, concerts, and operas to unmitigated critical acclaim the world over. She is as comfortable singing jazz, gospel, and popular music as she is with Wagner, Strauss, and Mahler, and has collaborated with poets, dancers, and artists of all kinds in pursuit of her artistic vision. In 1997, she made history as the youngest recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors, and in 2006 she was honored with the Grammy Awards Lifetime Achievement Award. President Barack Obama bestowed upon her the National Medal of Arts in 2010.
An active contributor to her community and the causes she holds dear, Ms. Norman serves or has served on the boards of directors for Carnegie Hall, The New York Public Library, Citymeals-on-Wheels, Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation. She is a spokesperson for Partnership for the Homeless. The Jessye Norman School for the Arts, a tuition-free performing arts after-school program for talented and traditionally underserved students in her hometown of Augusta, Georgia, opened in 2003. Norman’s memoir, titled Stand Up Straight and Sing!, was published last year.
I know you will all join me in warmly welcoming Jessye Norman back to Peabody, where she completed some of her early graduate studies. I am delighted we will have the opportunity to honor her and celebrate her many contributions to music and to the world.