The Music Department is pleased to announce that Dawn Upshaw has been chosen as a 2020-2026 A. D. White Professor-at-Large. Not just the first vocalist awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, a five-time GRAMMY award winner, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Founding Artistic Director of Bard College-Conservatory’s Graduate Vocal Arts Program—but a short selection from a long list of accolades—Dawn Upshaw is a singer who has built her versatile career as an innovator and a communicator, dedicated to the pursuit of truth and honesty in music of all forms. She is also a generous teacher and mentor, helping students utilize their own diverse voices as individual artists. As an A.D. White Professor-at-Large, Upshaw will bring her expertise in musical genres from classical to jazz to musical theater and beyond, with planned collaborations with a variety of students and faculty. More details about her first visit are being developed.
As Founding Artistic Director of Bard College-Conservatory’s Graduate Vocal Arts Program, Upshaw created a graduate program renowned for its emphasis on developing the artistry of each student. The program has welcomed an impressively varied roster of students over the last decade, selecting the most promising and most unique artists, with the result that some of the most groundbreaking classically-trained musicians today are graduates of this program. Additionally, as a performer and teacher who prizes honesty in communication alongside a rigorous study of the musical score and musical traditions of any genre, Upshaw’s commitment to cultivating a diversity of voices can also be seen in her musical collaborations. Since the inception of her career in 1984, she has promoted the voices of under-sung minorities, literally and figuratively. Her unflagging commitment to new music, and the use of her platform to amplify the voices of little-known composers has led to the launching of careers or broadening of platforms of queer artists, composers of color, and/or female or female-identifying composers. We are thrilled to bring an artist with such talent, vision, and compassion to our Cornell community, and look forward to the next six years.