Dawn Upshaw

A five-time Grammy Award winner, Dawn Upshaw combines a rare natural warmth with a fierce commitment to the transforming communicative power of music. She has achieved worldwide celebrity as an opera singer and recitalist of concert repertoire ranging from the sacred works of Bach to the freshest sounds of today. Her ability to reach to the heart of music and text has earned her a devoted audience, as well as awards and distinctions accorded to only the most distinguished of artists. In 2007, she was named a Fellow of the MacArthur Foundation, the first vocal artist to be awarded the five-year “genius” prize, and in 2008 she was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

“Upshaw’s instrument has the kind of power, clarity and pure beauty that can transfix a listener.” The Pioneer Press

Her acclaimed performances on the opera stage comprise the great Mozart roles (Susanna, Ilia, Pamina, Despina, and Zerlina) as well as modern works by Stravinsky, Poulenc, and Messiaen. From Salzburg, Paris and Glyndebourne to the Metropolitan Opera (where she began her career in 1984 and has since made nearly 300 appearances), Dawn Upshaw has also championed numerous new works created for her including The Great Gatsby by John Harbison; the Grawemeyer Award-winning opera L’Amour de Loin, and oratorio La Passion de Simone by Kaija Saariaho; John Adams’s Nativity oratorio El Niño; and Osvaldo Golijov’s chamber opera Ainadamar and song cycle Ayre.  A favored partner of many leading musicians, including Gilbert Kalish, the Kronos Quartet, James Levine, and Esa-Pekka Salonen, she also performs regularly as a recitalist, and particularly in her work with composers, having premiered more than 25 works in the past decade.  She is Artistic Director of the Vocal Arts Program at the Bard College Conservatory of Music, and the Head of the Vocal Arts Program at the Tanglewood Music Center.

Her most recent recording of Maria Schneider’s Winter Morning Walks received the 2014 Best Classical Vocal Solo Grammy.  Additionally, she is featured on more than 50 recordings, including the million-selling Symphony No. 3 by Henryk Gorecki for Nonesuch Records. 

Dawn Upshaw holds honorary doctorate degrees from Yale, the Manhattan School of Music, the Juilliard School, Allegheny College, and Illinois Wesleyan University. She began her career as a 1984 winner of the Young Concert Artists Auditions, a 1985 winner of the Walter W. Naumburg Competition, and was a member of the Metropolitan Opera Young Artists Development Program.