NEW YORK –– Tenor Lawrence Brownlee will join Juilliard’s Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts as distinguished visiting faculty starting this spring semester. Brownlee is a leading figure in opera, both as a singer on the world’s top stages and for his activism in support of diversity in the industry.
“We greatly look forward to welcoming Lawrence Brownlee to the Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts,” Juilliard President Damian Woetzel said. “As an artist and a teacher Lawrence will be such an inspiring influence on our young singers and on our entire Juilliard community.”
“I am incredibly honored and excited to have the opportunity to work with the talented young singers of The Juilliard School,” Brownlee said. “The name Juilliard is synonymous with the very highest level of excellence, and I cannot wait to meet its future stars.”
“We are thrilled to welcome Lawrence Brownlee to the Juilliard community,” Juilliard Provost Adam Meyer said. “His work at Juilliard will be pivotal for our students as they grow as young artists and citizens.”
“Lawrence is that rare combination: both a virtuoso performer and a gifted teacher. Our students learned a great deal from his master class with us last fall, and we all look forward to expanding his presence at Juilliard with this new role.” Brian Zeger, artistic director of the Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts, added.
Brownlee will be in residence at Juilliard for specific time periods this semester while also holding coaching and mentoring sessions. Future residencies may focus around a performance or showcase of opera scenes, or a group recital in which he works intensively with the singers. Some residency work may take place in person in accordance with safety guidelines, as well as remotely.
About Lawrence Brownlee
Lawrence Brownlee is a leading figure in opera, both as a singer on the world’s top stages, and as a voice for activism and diversity in the industry. Captivating audiences and critics around the globe, he has been hailed as “an international star in the bel canto operatic repertory” (The New York Times), “one of the world’s leading bel canto stars” (The Guardian), and “one of the most in-demand opera singers in the world today” (NPR).
Amid the challenges of COVID-19, Brownlee emerged as a pivotal voice in classical music’s shift toward digital programming and the resurgence of conversations around racial justice. In May 2020, he launched The Sitdown With LB, a weekly Facebook Live series that explores the experience of being an African-American opera singer. The series has featured Brownlee in conversation with renowned artists including George Shirley, Denyce Graves, Martina Arroyo, J’Nai Bridges, Angel Blue, and others. Since April 2020 he has also hosted the video series Coffee and a Song, in which he invites artist friends to perform interpretations of art-songs from the intimacy of their own homes, and in August he gave a master class conversation-performance as part of National Sawdust’s Digital Discovery Festival. Brownlee also performed at the Metropolitan Opera’s At-Home Gala in April 2020.
Other highlights of Brownlee’s 2020-21 season: a virtual concert with the Tallahassee Symphony, a broadcast of Lawrence Brownlee and Friends with Opera Philadelphia, a virtual recital with pianist Myra Huang for the Schubert Club International Artist Series, broadcasts and live performances of his acclaimed solo recital program Cycles of My Being, a duo recital with Michael Spyres, and appearances with the Lincoln Center Song Series, Opéra Royal de Wallonie, Opernhaus Zurich, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, New National Theatre Tokyo, and San Francisco Opera. His album Amici e Rivali with Michael Spyres and conductor Corrado Rovaris, due out in November 2021 on Warner Classics / Erato, will be the first ever to exclusively feature Rossini’s tenor duets.
Brownlee’s 2019-20 season began with a return to Lyric Opera of Chicago for one of his signature roles as Count Almaviva in The Barber of Seville under the baton of Andrew Davis, followed by Dutch National Opera for another Rossinian comedy favorite as Don Ramiro in La Cenerentola. Brownlee also made a return to Houston Grand Opera, adding a new role to his repertoire as Fernand in a new production of Donizetti’s La Favorite. In February 2020, he gave a recital alongside Michael Spyres and the Puerto Rico Symphony, and in March returned to his hometown for a concert with the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra.
A passionate advocate for diversity initiatives, Brownlee works with companies and engages civic organizations in the cities he visits to create programs and experiences seeking to expand opera audiences. His critically acclaimed solo recital program Cycles of My Being, a song cycle that centers on the Black male experience in America today, has toured across the country three times since 2018, including performances at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center as well as virtual broadcasts throughout 2020. Following the successful Lawrence Brownlee and Friends concert at Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2019, Brownlee performed Giving Voice at Houston Grand Opera, a concert created to celebrate Houston’s diverse community, and reprised his concert at Lyric with the virtual performance of Lawrence Brownlee and Friends: The Next Chapter in July 2020.
Brownlee serves as artistic advisor for Opera Philadelphia, where his responsibilities include increasing and expanding audience diversity, advocating for new works, and liaising with the general director from the perspective of a performing artist. “As an artist, I think it is important that we are actively advocating for this beautiful art form we love so much,” he said, “ensuring that it will be alive and well for many years to come.” He also serves as an ambassador for Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Lyric Unlimited and is a peace ambassador for a new initiative called Opera for Peace.
With an ever-increasing presence in opera, recital, and concerts, Lawrence Brownlee has cemented his place as one of the top artists in classical music. He is a regular guest at the world’s most important opera houses including The Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Royal Opera House – Covent Garden, Bayerische Staatsoper, Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Opéra national de Paris, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Teatro Real, Opernhaus Zürich, and Wiener Staatsoper. He is a fixture at the world’s top recital venues including Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, and The Kennedy Center. His concert performances include collaborations with The Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, The San Francisco Symphony, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and the festivals of Baden-Baden and Salzburg.
Brownlee is the fourth of six children and first discovered music when he learned to play bass, drums, and piano at his family’s church in Hubbard, Ohio. He received a master’s degree from Indiana University and a grand prize in the 2001 Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions. Brownlee is a winner of numerous awards and distinctions including Male Singer of the Year (2017 International Opera Awards) and the Kennedy Center’s Marian Anderson Award. In October 2019, he had the distinct honor of singing at Jessye Norman’s funeral in her hometown of Augusta, Georgia.
About Juilliard’s Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts
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, 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.
About The Juilliard School
Founded in 1905, The Juilliard School is a world leader in performing arts education. The school’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 43 states and 44 countries and regions are enrolled at Juilliard, where they appear in over 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 at 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.