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Leontyne Price Speaks at Commencement

Leontyne Price and Florence Page Kimball

 (Photo by Whitestone Photo, courtesy of the Juilliard Archives)

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As Juilliard's first female commencement speaker, in 1973, soprano Leontyne Price (Special Studies '52, voice) paid tribute to her voice instructor Florence Page Kimball (faculty 1927–75), with whom she's pictured. Only at Juilliard, Price said, “could I have been fortunate enough to have found [this] beloved and gracious lady who is responsible in every way for my being here today, and for any resemblance to a professional performer that I may represent. I love her, and I am grateful to her for the countless and untiring years of study and hard work, for discipline and guidance, for her unselfishness, her patience, and for a most precious gift: her faith in me. She is exemplary of greatness and humanity by which I shall always be inspired. To my beloved teacher I say: Evivva! Evviva! Evviva!”

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Price was also in the first group of people to receive honorary doctorates from Juilliard, in 1987. The others were Martha Hill, founder of the Dance Division; John Houseman, first head of the Drama Division; Itzhak Perlman (Pre-College '63; '68, faculty 1999–present); Mrs. John D. Rockefeller III, arts patron and Juilliard trustee; and William Schuman, composer and Juilliard president from 1945 to 1961. Price was also the 1989 commencement speaker and has presented numerous master classes and given back to the school in countless other ways over the years. So to Leontyne Price, who turned 90 in February, we say happy birthday and thanks!

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