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Tribute to Sylvia Olden Lee:
Master Musician and Teacher

June 2017

Master Musician and Teacher!

Tickets on Sale at the Carnegie Hall Box Office.
See: or call 718-709-8722


The Foundation for the Revival of Classical Culture invites you to join us at Carnegie Hall this Thursday, June 29, at 7:30 PM for a once-in-a decade concert.

Celebrate the Beauty and Truth of Classical music with Simon Estes, Elvira Green, Kevin Short, Osceola Davis, and other Metropolitan Opera performers in their celebration of the life and times of Ms. Sylvia Olden Lee, one of the great American educators of the twentieth century. Born in 1917, Sylvia, who died in 2004, is being celebrated for her dedication to the forgotten children and young men and women of America, who were and are deprived of any knowledge of one of the greatest gifts of the human spirit--great Classical art in the form of music. The Office of the Mayor of the City of New York will present a declaration designating Thursday, June 29th, "Sylvia Olden Lee Day" throughout the city. The question we want people to ask is: "Why? Why is this woman important?" Here are two answers to the question, "Who Is Sylvia?"

George Shirley:


Sylvia Lee was, without a doubt, a musical miracle blessed with a pianistic facility and musical memory that knew no limits.  Her ability to sit at the piano and play countless art songs and operatic arias from memory was stupefying. The rigor of her legendary tuition was branded indelibly upon the psyche of those fortunate enough to learn from her.

"Miss Sylvia" brooked no lackadaisical approach to gaining ownership of song literature. Her punctilious method for learning was true to her perfectionist spirit and woe to the soul for whom that level of demand proved uncomfortable!  She well knew the expectations for one -- especially one of darker hue -- who aspires to the professional level of vocal performance in the realm of "non-popular" music.  Her determination to ensure that, to the greatest extent possible, those aspirants with whom she worked would respect and meet or exceed those expectations to the best of their ability was the gold standard that bespoke her immense value.

There will never be another Sylvia Lee, for she was truly distinctive.  Those of us blessed to have been in her aura will remain enriched by her influence and unforgettable personality for the rest of our days. 

Happy 100th Birthday, Sylvia!

With love,

George I. Shirley -- Internationally acclaimed operatic tenor, awarded The National Medal of Arts in 2015.  He is now the J. Edgar Maddy Distinguished University Emeritus Professor of Music (Voice), University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

Bobby McFerrin:

My godmother, Sylvia was an uncompromising, no nonsense, musician's musician with boundless energy, whose source came from the heavens and her love for the divine art. She was a great teacher but always recognized the importance of maintaining the attitude of a student...always learning... always entering each new piece as if embarking on a great adventure with the excitement of a little child. She was an accompanist non-parallel, many times playing for my father in that role. She was extraordinarily gifted and made her presence known the moment she entered a room, prompting those of us so inclined to stand as if for royalty. She will be truly missed. Dearest godmother, I love you. I miss you. Play something for me, for us. We're listening."

Bobby McFerrin --
American jazz vocalist and conductor,
and Sylvia Olden Lee's godson.
Bobby McFerrin's father was the great American operatic baritone, Robert McFerrin.

Tickets are available, $28-75 on sale through Carnegie Hall HERE.


June 29, 2017 at 7:30pm - 9:30pm

Carnegie Hall
881 7th Ave
Isaac Stern Auditorium
New York, NY 10019
United States
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