DANBURY, CONN. — Western Connecticut State University will celebrate the 80th anniversary of legendary contralto singer Marian Anderson’s historic concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1939 with a special presentation on Tuesday, April 9, 2019, featuring WCSU vocal students performing songs by four of the leading African American female composers of the 20th century.
The Marian Anderson Tribute Concert will be at 8 p.m. in the Veronica Hagman Concert Hall of the Visual and Performing Arts Center on the university’s Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury. Admission will be free and the public is invited.
Anderson performed on April 9, 1939, in an open-air Easter Sunday concert at the Lincoln Memorial after the Daughters of the American Revolution refused permission for an African American to sing to an integrated audience in Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes were instrumental in arranging Anderson’s public appearance before an audience of 75,000 on the National Mall.
Sixteen WCSU voice students will perform a diverse program of art songs and spirituals directed by Professor of Music Dr. Margaret Astrup, with piano accompaniment by Yale University Music Lecturer Sara Kohane. Selections will include works by composers Margaret Bonds, Betty Jackson King, Undine Smith Moore and Florence Price.
Astrup observed that the featured singers range from beginning to advanced levels of development in their voice training at WCSU. She said the university’s Department of Music will present the concert free for the public’s enjoyment “in the spirit of the original event” to which the tribute is dedicated.
Soprano singers will include Amy Cerbie, of Meriden; Alexandra Dima, of Trumbull; Julia Giattino, of Terryville; Katherine Kelly, of Bristol; Tiffany Owen, of Stratford; Carly Sacco, of Orange; and Marguerite Walsh, of Stratford. Mezzo-sopranos will include Cathryn Jordan, of New Britain, and Christina Tran, of Branford.
Tenors who will perform are William Alldredge, of Naugatuck; Elias Levy, of Monroe; and Michael Newman, of Naugatuck. Baritone singers will include Anthony Deluco, of Cheshire, and Matthew Sacco, of Orange. The featured bass singers are Kevin Michaud, of Bristol, and Americo Salvi, of Hamden.
WCSU is conducting an initiative, chaired by School of Visual and Performing Arts Dean Brian Vernon, to name the SVPA and the Visual and Performing Arts Center in honor of Anderson. She had deep roots in Danbury, where she purchased a home in 1940 and resided for 52 years until a year prior to her death in 1993.
The naming campaign seeks to recognize Anderson’s accomplishments in music and civil rights, as well as her contributions to the local community. All contributions to the Marian Anderson Fund will go to the naming, development and enhancement of the SVPA and to community programming.
Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.