The Marilyn Horne Foundation (MHF) was formed in 1993 to promote the art of the vocal recital. Marilyn Horne is widely recognized as one of the greatest opera performers in history. Ms. Horne started her foundation because she grew worried that the tradition of the song recital was disappearing. The eminent opera star wanted to support young recitalists and give them the opportunity to refine their craft. She acknowledged that there still seemed to be eager audiences for song recitals in cities like New York, but at the time, Ms. Horne noted that institutions and organizations around the country that used to present song recital series regularly started dropping out of the business.
The Marilyn Horne Foundation was one of the most influential and esteemed national nonprofits devoted exclusively to song and to gifted young vocal recitalists. The Foundation was officially launched on January 16, 1994, with a gala concert at Carnegie Hall celebrating Ms. Horne's 60th birthday. The mission statement of the Foundation was "to encourage, support and preserve the art of the vocal recital through the presentation of recitals and related educational activities in communities across the United States."
The Marilyn Horne Foundation achieved this mission through the presentation of recitals, residencies, concerts, radio broadcasts, educational outreach and song commissions. In addition to performances at Carnegie Hall and the Julliard School of Music, the Foundation performed hundreds of recitals at schools, colleges, and universities across the country. The Foundation sponsored “The Song Continues,” which was a weeklong festival of master classes and recitals culminating with an annual concert.
The Foundation selected a number of aspiring young singers to send on the road for four-day residencies in partnership with community-based concert presenters, music festivals or colleges. The singers offered recitals and visited local schools. The first two singers sponsored by the Foundation were soprano Bridgett Hooks and tenor Olafur Bjarnason. There was also a competition, held in July for students enrolled at the Music Academy for the West in Santa Barbara, California, where Marilyn Horne served as a voice program director from 1977. Two winners (a singer and pianist) were presented each season at the “Wings of Song” recital in New York.
The Foundation also supported the “On Wings of Song” program which started in 1995 as a vocal recital series and later included radio broadcasts on WQXR. Marilyn Horne and WQXR’s Elliot Forrest co-hosted an hour that consisted of part concert, part master-class, and part reminiscence. The concerts were recorded live at Christ & Stephen’s Church in New York City. The program was eventually folded into “The Song Continues” series.
Over the course of the fifteen year plus history of the Foundation, over 100 artists were sponsored. In July 2010, the Foundation closed and the programs of the Marilyn Horne Foundation were incorporated into the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall with Marilyn Horne serving as the Artistic Advisor. Both
The Song Continues, the annual festival, and the
On Wings of Song vocal recital series live on to introduce and support emerging young vocalists.