Contact: Abigail Fota, College Relations Associate - Media, 610-740-3790


Allentown, PA (March 1, 2004) - Majestic opera diva and one of the most acclaimed musical artists of the late twentieth century, Jessye Norman, will receive an honorary degree from Cedar Crest College on Friday, March 26, 2004 at 7:00 p.m. in the Samuels Theatre of the Tompkins College Center. Following the degree presentation, Norman will speak to the crowd on "The Necessity of the Arts in our Lives."

Miss Norman is praised for her enormous vocal power, tonal warmth and clarity of diction. She is "one of those once-in-a-generation singers who is not simply following in the footsteps of others, but is skating out her own niche in the history of singing." This rich history continues to be made as she brings her sumptuous sound, her joy of singing and spontaneous passion to recital performances, operatic portrayals and appearances with symphony orchestras and chamber music collaborators to audiences around the world. The sheer size, power, and luster of her voice share equal acclaim with that of her thoughtful music-making, innovative programming of the classics, and fervent advocacy of contemporary music.

In 2004, Miss Norman will be presented in performance in Thailand, Spain, France, England, Germany, Austria and in Japan, where she will reprise her unique opera double-bill of Schoenberg's "Erwartung" and Poulenc's "La voix humaine". In the United States, Miss Norman's performances will include Washington, Cleveland and New York.

Jessye Norman sings an exciting and unusual operatic repertoire that includes the works of Berlioz, Meyerbeer, Stravinsky, Poulenc, Schoenberg, Janacek, Bartok, Rameau, Wagner and Richard Strauss, at opera houses around the world, most notably The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, La Scala, Vienna State Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Saito Kinen Music Festival, Salzburg Music Festival, the Festival at Aix-en-Provence, Philadelphia Opera and Chicago's Lyric Opera. Numerous operatic appearances followed her Metropolitan Opera debut on opening night of the 100th anniversary season in 1983. The Makropulos Case of Leos Janacek, with Miss Norman in her acclaimed portrayal of Emilie Marty, was given its premier production at the Metropolitan Opera in 1996.

In December of 1997, she was invested with the United States' highest award in the performing arts, the Kennedy Center Honor, making history as the youngest recipient in the Honors' twenty-year existence. Her many other prestigious awards and distinctions include honorary doctorates at some thirty colleges, universities and conservatories around the world. In 1984 the French government bestowed upon Miss Norman the title Commandeur de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and the National Museum of Natural History in Paris named an orchid for her. In October 1989 she was awarded the Legion d'Honneur by French President Mitterand, and in June 1990 she was named Honorary Ambassador to the United Nations by U.N. Secretary-General Xavier Perez de Cuellar. Miss Norman was awarded the Radcliffe Medal in June of 1997 on the occasion of the annual luncheon of Harvard-Radcliffe alumni at Harvard Yard. In the autumn of 2000, Miss Norman was the recipient of the Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal in recognition of her humanitarian and civic contributions. In Augusta, Georgia, her hometown, the Amphitheatre and Plaza overlooking the tranquil Savannah River have been named for her.

Miss Norman's distinguished catalogue of recordings has won numerous awards, including France's Grand Prix National du Disque for albums of lieder by Wagner, Schumann, Mahler and Schubert; London's prestigious Gramophone Award for her outstanding interpretation of Strauss' "Four Last Songs"; Amsterdam's Edison Prize; and recording honors in Belgium, Spain and Germany. In the United States, her Grammy Award winning recordings include "Songs of Maurice Ravel," and Wagner's Lohengrin and Die Walkure. Bluebeard's Castle with Pierre Boulez and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra received the Grammy Award for the best opera in February 1999. She was winner of an "Ace" Award from the National Academy of Cable Programming for "Jessye Norman at Notre Dame", as seen on the Arts and Entertainment Television Network. In 2000, Jessye Norman released her first jazz CD to wide acclaim…I Was Born In Love With You, music of Michel Legrand, with Mr. Legrand a the piano, bassist Ron Carter and percussionist Grady Tate.

In addition to her busy performance schedule, Miss Norman serves on the Boards of Directors for The New York Public Library, the New York Botanical Garden, Citymeals-on-Wheels in New York City, The Dance Theatre of Harlem, the National Music Foundation and the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Miss Norman is a member of the board as well as National spokesperson for the Lupus Foundation, and national spokesperson for the Partnership for the Homeless. And in her hometown of Augusta, Georgia, she serves on the Board of Trustees of Paine College and the Augusta Opera Association. Also in Augusta, Georgia, the Jessye Norman School for the Arts began its first classes in September 2003. A relentless Girl Scout cookie seller, she is a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts of America. Miss Norman resides in New York State.

The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required. For more information, please contact the Cedar Crest College Special Events Hotline at 610-740-3791.

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Abigail Fota
College Relations Associate - Media


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