Renowned Mezzo-Soprano Denyce Graves to Join Juilliard as Distinguished Visiting Faculty

Monday, Nov 02, 2020
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Mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves
Mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves (photo by Devon Cass)

NEW YORK –– Mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves will join Juilliard’s Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts as distinguished visiting faculty beginning this month. Recognized worldwide as one of today’s most exciting vocal artists, Graves continues to garner acclaim for her work on the world’s opera and concert stages.

“I am honored on behalf of Juilliard to welcome to our faculty the incomparable Denyce Graves,” said Juilliard President Damian Woetzel. “Our vocal students will be so fortunate to henceforth have Denyce’s wisdom and example to draw on, and the school as a whole will be similarly enriched by her presence among us.”

“Joining the faculty of Juilliard’s Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts is, for me, a career highlight!” Graves said. “There is nowhere in the world—and certainly no place where creative and performing arts education is alive and serious—that isn’t somehow associated with Juilliard. I’m thrilled beyond words to have been invited to contribute to the training that Juilliard’s talented young performers receive to launch their careers, and I couldn’t be more excited to join the colleagues and peers already there doing this important work. I have admired and respected this amazing institution of excellence for my entire career, and it will be a joy to become a part of this leader in performing arts education.”

“We are thrilled to welcome Denyce Graves to the Juilliard community,” Juilliard Provost Adam Meyer said, adding, “As longtime admirers of her work, we look forward to the depth of experience she will bring to our students as they work toward professional careers.”

“We are honored to have Denyce join us at Juilliard to teach and coach the talented singers in our Vocal Arts program. Her artistry, charisma, and ability to connect with many audiences will be an inspiration to our students,” said Brian Zeger, artistic director of the Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts.

In coordination with her performance schedule, Graves will be in residence at Juilliard for a multiweek residency each semester while also holding coaching and mentoring sessions throughout each term. Residencies may focus around a performance or showcase of opera scenes, or a group recital in which she works intensively with the singers. Some residency work may take place remotely in the coming year, in accordance with safety guidelines.

About Denyce Graves-Montgomery

American mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves-Montgomery delights audiences on opera, concert, and recital stages across the globe. She attracted attention during her student days, graduating with a Bachelor of Music from Oberlin College Conservatory of Music and an Artist Diploma from New England Conservatory of Music. Subsequently, she’s been awarded honorary degrees from Oberlin College Conservatory, New England Conservatory, James Madison University, Center College, William and Mary College, and the College of Saint Mary.

In her professional career, Graves-Montgomery has won many honors and prizes including Grand Prix du International de Chant de Paris, Grand Prix Lyrique l’ópera de Monte-Carlo, the Marian Anderson Award, Jacobson Study Grant through the Richard Tucker Music Foundation, and Eleanor Steber Music Award in the Opera Columbus Vocal Competition. 

From Herodias (Salome), Baba the Turk (The Rake’s Progress), Judith (Bluebeard) to Charlotte (Werther), Dorabella (Così fan tutte), Giulietta (The Tales of Hoffmann), La Gran Vestale (Spontini), Frederica (Luisa Miller), and Erica (Vanessa | Barber) to Marguerite (La Damnation of Faust | Berlioz), Lucretia (Rape of Lucretia | Britten) to La Vida Breve (da Falla), Mere Marie (Dialogue of the Carmelites | Poulenc) to Perichole (La Perichole | Offenbach), Ulrica (Un Ballo), Azucena (Il Trovatore), The Old Lady (Candide | Bernstein), and Maria (Porgy & Bess | Gershwin), Graves-Montgomery stormed the world’s opera stages. The roles of Carmen and Dalila were her calling card roles at the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna Staatsoper, Royal Opera Covent Garden, Teatro Colon Buenos Aires, San Francisco Opera, Opera National de Paris, Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Washington Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper, Arena di Verona, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Teatro Real Madrid, Los Angeles Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Dallas Opera, and many others.

Composers, stage directors, opera companies have all collaborated with Graves-Montgomery in world and/or company premieres of modern works including Margaret Garner (Danielpour), Marnie’s Mother (Marnie | Muhly), Dragon (Grendel | Goldenthal), Emelda Griffin (Champion | Blanchard), Mrs. Miller (Doubt | Cuomo), and Madeline (Three Decembers | Heggie), many of which have been broadcast. As in standard repertory, her performances in these new works proved her bona fides as a singing actress par excellence whose searing portrayals captivated audiences and critics alike.

Graves-Montgomery has recorded for BMG Classics | RCA Red Seal, NPR Classics, Sony Classical, EMI Classics, and Deutsche Grammophon. She was seen in the international Emmy-winning series The House in an episode about her debut performance at the Royal Opera House, and Denyce Graves Breaking the Rules (PBS) won an Emmy. 

While Graves-Montgomery was building an international career as a leading mezzo-soprano, she worked consistently as master class clinician, competition judge, music and cultural ambassador, and teacher. The companies, music schools, and conservatories of music where she’s been a master class clinician include Levine School, Ellington School, WNO Young Artists, St. Louis Opera Artists, La Scala Young Artists, Metropolitan Opera Young Artists, Kennedy Center Young Artists, Wolf Trap Opera, West Palm Beach Opera, Boston University, Oberlin College Conservatory, USC, Manhattan School of Music, Peabody Conservatory, New England Conservatory, and the Universities of Maryland and Notre Dame.

President George W. Bush appointed Graves-Montgomery a U.S. Cultural Ambassador, and she has toured Greece, Germany, Venezuela, offering master classes and singing workshops. Her voice is an emotional talisman during America’s traumatic 9/11 period, she sang high-profile services and events that were broadcast worldwide. She’s been invited to the White House for singing performances and as guest at state dinners. Graves-Montgomery recently performed during the Capitol ceremony for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with whom she had a close friendship.

Recent recognitions include inductions into the Academy of Achievement and John P. McGovern Award Cosmos Club, both in 2019, and she received the Ambassador of Arts Award in 2018. Graves-Montgomery holds in highest esteem than the honors of permanent installation in both the Smithsonian Museum National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian Museum National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Still balancing her busy performing career and institutional teaching obligation, Graves-Montgomery accepts a small number of career-ready singers in her private studio. As teacher-mentor, she prepares them for singing competitions and Young Artist Development Programs, as they launch their careers. Her students have made important debuts at the Metropolitan Opera, Washington National Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Baltimore Opera, Opera Theater of St. Louis, Opera Delaware, Virginia Opera, Sarasota Opera, Dallas Opera, Teatro Nuovo Berkshire Opera Festival, Opera Naples, Hawaii Performing Arts Festival, Amalfi Coast Music Festival, and Martina Arroyo Foundation; they’ve sung with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Maryland Symphony Orchestra, Queens Symphony Orchestra, St. Veronica Orchestra; and they have performed in venues such as Jazz at Lincoln Center, Bruno Walter Auditorium Lincoln Center, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, and the Kennedy Center.

Since 2012, Graves-Montgomery has been Rosa Ponselle endowed chair at Peabody Conservatory of John Hopkins University. 

About the Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts at Juilliard

Brian Zeger, Artistic Director

One of America’s most prestigious programs for educating singers, Juilliard’s Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts offers young artists programs tailored to their talents and needs. From bachelor and master of music degrees to an advanced Artist Diploma in Opera Studies program, Juilliard provides frequent performance opportunities featuring singers in its own recital halls, on Lincoln Center’s stages, and around New York City. Juilliard Opera has presented numerous premieres of new operas as well as works from the standard repertoire.

Juilliard graduates may be heard in opera houses and concert halls throughout the world; diverse alumni artists include well-known performers such as Leontyne Price, Renée Fleming, Risë Stevens, Tatiana Troyanos, Simon Estes, and Shirley Verrett. Recent alumni include Isabel Leonard, Susanna Phillips, Paul Appleby, Erin Morley, Sasha Cooke, and Julia Bullock.

Juilliard’s Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts was established in 2010 by the generous support of Ellen and James S. Marcus.

About The Juilliard School

Founded in 1905, The Juilliard School is a world leader in performing arts education. Juilliard’s mission is to provide the highest caliber of artistic education for gifted musicians, dancers, and actors from around the world so that they may achieve their fullest potential as artists, leaders, and global citizens.

Located at Lincoln Center in New York City, Juilliard offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in dance, drama (acting and playwriting), and music (classical, jazz, historical performance, and vocal arts). Currently more than 800 artists from 40 states and 41 countries are enrolled at Juilliard, where they appear in more than 700 annual performances in the school’s five theaters; at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully and David Geffen halls and at Carnegie Hall; as well as other venues around New York City, the country, and the world. Beyond its New York campus, Juilliard is defining new directions in global performing arts education for a range of learners and enthusiasts through The Tianjin Juilliard School and K-12 educational curricula.

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