Skip to content
BSO, Pops, Tanglewood, and Symphony Hall Logos

A Century of Song: Black Classical Singers and the BSO

This special focus exhibit takes a look at some of the Black classical singers who have performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the nearly 100 years since November 15, 1923 when Roland Hayes became the first Black soloist to appear with the orchestra: these artists include Dorothy Maynor (pictured to the right), Carol Brice, Adele Addison, Ellabelle Davis, George Shirley, Leontyne Price, Kathleen Battle, Shirley Verrett and Jessye Norman, among others. Selected archival audio clips featuring a few of these artists are available by scrolling down to the end of this exhibit.

American soprano Dorothy Maynor and BSO Music Director Serge Koussevitzky, 1940

Photographer unknown

Listen: Clip of Leontyne Price performing in the world premiere of Barber's Prayers of Kirkegaard, with the BSO and Charles Munch on December 3rd and 4th, 1954

0:00 / 0:00

Listen: Clip of Adele Addison performing Poulenc's Gloria, July 21st, 1961, Charles Munch conducting

0:00 / 0:00

Listen: Clip of George Shirley as Tamino performing "Zu Hilfe! zu Hilfe!" from the BSO's performance of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte at Tanglewood on August 6th, 1966, with Erich Leinsdorf conducting

0:00 / 0:00