One of America’s most versatile tenors and enlightened musicians, George Shirley remains in demand nationally and internationally as a performer, teacher, and lecturer.
He has won international acclaim for his performances with the Metropolitan Opera, and with major opera houses and festivals throughout England; Germany; Austria; Argentina; the Netherlands; Monte Carlo; Scotland; Italy; Japan; Chicago; San Francisco; Washington, DC; Santa Fe; and Detroit; among others.
Mr. Shirley has recorded for the Rca, Columbia, Decca, Angel, Vanguard, CRI, Capriccio, Philips, and Albany lables. He received a Grammy in 1968 for his role (Ferrando) in the prize-winning RCA recording of Mozart’s Così fan tutte. He has performed more than 80 operatic roles over the span of his 50-year career, as well as oratorio and concert literature with some of the world’s most renowned orchestras: the London Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, London Symphony, and the major orchestras of New York City, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, San Francisco, Cleveland, Los Angeles, and Boston. Mr. Shirley has also appeared with renowned conductors : Solti, Stravinsky, Leinsdorf, Ormandy, Klemperer, Bernstein, Maazel, Colin Davis, von Karajan, Schippers, Steinberg, and Ozawa, among others. As recitalist he has collaborated with William Bolcom, Charles Wadsworth, Philip Eisenberg, Martin Isepp, Jonathan Brice, John Wustman, Kelly Wyatt, George Posell, and Martin Katz, to name but a few.
Mr. Shirley was the first black tenor and second African American male to sing leading roles with the Metropolitan Opera, where he remained for 11 years. He was the first black high school vocal music teacher in the Detroit Public Schools and the first black member of the US Army Chorus in Washington, DC. The January 2004 issue of Opera News featured a retrospective of Mr. Shirley’s career by Eric Myers, Reunion: George Shirley.
George Shirley is The Joseph Edgar Maddy Distinguished University Emeritus Professor of Music and Director Emeritus of the Vocal Arts Division of the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater, and Dance.