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Two-time Grammy Award winner SYLVIA McNAIR has established herself as one of the most sought after of American artists. In 17 years as a professional singer she has made over 70 recordings. She is a regular guest soloist with the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Boston Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic, and the Metropolitan Opera.
Performances in the 1998/99 season included return engagements with the orchestras of Cleveland, Chicago, and Philadelphia, as well as the New York Philharmonic as part of their celebration of George Gershwin’s 100th birthday. She was also featured as Cleopatra in a production of Handel’s Giulio Cesare at the Metropolitan Opera and she sang a recital, accompanied by her husband, conductor and pianist Hal France, at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., arranged by special invitation from the Justices. European engagements included performances with the Vienna Philharmonic and l’Orchestre de Paris, and she appeared in recitals in Vienna, Rome, Prague, and London (a performance which was recorded ‘live’ by the BBC).
Because of her passion for music written by living composers, Sylvia McNair is currently involved in three separate world premiere projects commissioned for her by Carnegie Hall, the New York Philharmonic, and the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society.
The 1999/2000 season saw McNair in Indianapolis for that orchestra’s season opening gala concert. She makes return visits to the National Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic, and, in the spring, she will join the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and James Levine for concerts at Carnegie Hall. McNair travels extensively during the season, singing recitals in Los Angeles, San Diego, Cleveland, Chicago, Atlanta, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Vienna, and New York, where her Carnegie Hall debut recital took place on March 15th, 2000.
She has recorded for nearly every major classical record label, and her discography includes eight solo recordings, a disc of Handel and Mozart sacred cantatas, songs by Henry Purcell (the 1996 Grammy Winner for Best Vocal Solo Recording), a recording of songs by French composers Debussy, Poulenc, Bizet and Messiaen entitled Reveries, Mozart opera and concert arias with Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, a recording of music by Ravel and Debussy with Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Symphony, as well as two discs of songs by Jerome Kern and Harold Arlen with André Previn playing the piano.
A native of Mansfield, Ohio, Sylvia McNair completed a Master’s Degree with Distinction at the Indiana University School of Music and is the recipient of two Honorary Doctorates, one from Westminster College in Princeton, New Jersey (1997) and one from her alma mater, Indiana University (1998). In 1999 she was awarded the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Arts and Entertainment by Ohio Governor Bob Taft.
Sylvia McNair made her Los Angeles Philharmonic debut singing in the semi-staged production of Debussy’s Le martyre de Saint Sébastien under Esa-Pekka Salonen in 1996.