Marilyn Horne, opera's leading lady, and Barbara Cook, the original Marion in The Music Man, will join together to present Just Between Friends: Selections from the American Songbook at 8 p.m. Saturday, in Baker Hall.
"Barbara and I have known each other for a long time, and we certainly admire each others' work," says Horne, whose performance with Cook will be one of only two shows of its kind. At this year’s gala, the two singers will perform works by the century's greatest popular composers, including Sondheim, Hammerstein, Berlin, and Gershwin. They will be backed by a 43-piece professional orchestra that includes three Lehigh faculty members.
Horne, who says she has been "singing since I could talk," is optimistic about the future of opera and classical music.
"Opera has had a huge growth in this country, and I hear the young talents and they're fantastic," Horne says. "So as long as the gene pools keep producing these talents, there's no danger of opera dying."
An award-winning career
After celebrating 26 years as a leading lady at the Met and 39 seasons at the San Francisco Opera, Horne herself retired from opera singing in 1996 and switched to singing classical and lighter music such as the songs she'll sing at Zoellner.
"I can't compete with my younger self anymore," she says. "I sang very, very difficult music, and you get to a point where you can't sing opera as well as you used to."
With the Marilyn Horne Foundation, Horne is working to support young talent and the "endangered species" of the vocal recital.
"We grant people recitals all over the country," she says. Having sung more than 1,300 recitals herself, Horne says it's a real pleasure to sing at smaller venues such as Zoellner.
During her career in opera, Horne was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Grammy. She's also received numerous accolades in the arts as well as in academia. President Clinton named her a Kennedy Center Honoree; President Bush awarded her the National Medal of the Arts and the Endowment for the Arts; and she has sung in the Reagan, Bush and Clinton White Houses.
Her international success in the most difficult of coloratura mezzo-soprano roles led to the revival of many of Rossini and Handel's greatest operas. She has received Grammy Awards for several of her operatic recordings, including Handel's Semele, Presenting Marilyn Horne, In Concert at the Met with Leontyne Price and Marilyn Horne and Carmen.
Broadway meets Lehigh
Barbara Cook is the recipient of Tony, Grammy, and Drama Desk Awards. She has delighted audiences with her soprano, purity of tone and warm presence for more than 50 years. Cook was considered "Broadway's favorite ingenue" during the heyday of the Broadway musical. In subsequent years, she launched a second career as a concert and cabaret artist. She has sung in New York's intimate Café Carlyle, as well as with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London and with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Among the orchestra members backing the two great talents are conductor Paul Hsun-Ling Chou, David Diggs, and Christopher Di Santo. Chou has appeared as a soloist with the New York Chamber Symphony, the International Chamber Orchestra, Chicago Grant Park Symphony, and the San Angelo Symphony. Diggs became the director of The Wind Ensemble at Lehigh in 1998 following a successful career as a freelance musician in New York City. And Di Santo, a native of Columbus, Ohio, is an adjunct faculty member at Lehigh, Moravian College, and West Chester University. He is the principal clarinetist of the Bay-Atlantic Symphony in New Jersey, a position he has held since 1991.
Tickets for the concert with a champagne intermission are available for $100 and $65 through Ticket Services at (610) 758-2787 (7LU-ARTS). Black tie is optional. LVAIC student prices are available with school identification.
Gala-2003 benefits Zoellner Arts Center's year-round artistic and educational programs. The concert is supported by the Gala-2003 Consortium: Alvin H. Butz, Inc; Dexter F. and Dorothy H. Baker Foundation; and Mary T. and George J. D'Angelo '47.
Posted on Monday, October 13, 2003