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George Shirley: A life in music

1969 American operatic tenor George Shirley.
1969 American operatic tenor George Shirley.

George Shirley is a trailblazer — an award-winning operatic tenor who helped change and shape some of the nation’s most powerful cultural institutions.

He’s now in his late 80s. His voice still captivates audiences throughout the country. Shirley was the first African American tenor to sing in a leading role at the Metropolitan Opera.

As a pioneer and teacher, he paved the way for generations of aspiring African American opera singers.

This is the latest installment in our series called “More Than Music.” Our guide is Joe Horowitz.

Joe takes us on a musical and historical journey as we hear about the key cultural forces alive more than a century ago that influenced Shirley as a young man.

George Shirley has a story to tell. Today he shares it with us in conversation and in performance.

Scripted and edited by Joe Horowitz. Sound design and production by Peter Bogdanoff. George Shirley and Joe Horowitz will reprise “George Shirley: A life in Music” for Chamber Music Cincinnati this April. Earlier ‘More Than Music’ programs can be found hereherehere , and here.

Copyright 2023 WAMU 88.5

Rupert Allman