Lucy Shelton

The only winner of two Walter W. Naumburg Awards—for both chamber music and solo singing—soprano Lucy Shelton is an internationally recognized exponent of 20th and 21st century repertory. Notable among her numerous world premieres are Elliott Carter’s Tempo e Tempi and Of Challenge and Of Love, Oliver Knussen’s Whitman Settings, Joseph Schwantner’s Magabunda and Sparrows, Poul Ruders’ The Bells, Stephen Albert’s Flower of the Mountain, and Robert Zuidam’s opera Rage d’Amours. She also gave the premiere of Gerard Grisey’s L’Icone Paradoxiale with the Los Angeles Philharmonic; sang Pierre Boulez’s Le Visage Nuptial under the composer’s direction in Los Angeles, Chicago, London and Paris; appeared in Vienna and Berlin singing György Kurtag’s The Sayings of Peter Bornemisza with pianist Sir Andras Schiff; and made her Aldeburgh Festival debut in the premiere of Alexander Goehr’s chamber work Sing, Ariel.

In 2021 Ms. Shelton made her grand opera debut singing “The Teacher” in the premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s last opera Innocence at the Aix-en-Provence Festival and is performing it in subsequent productions with the opera companies of Helsinki, London, Amsterdam, San Francisco, Adelaide Festival and at New York City’s Metropolitan Opera through 2026.

Throughout her career Ms. Shelton has been featured in many theatrical works, including Luciano Berio’s Passaggio with the Ensemble InterContemporain, Sir Michael Tippett’s The Midsummer Marriage (for Thames Television), Luigi Dallapiccola’s Il Prigioniero (her BBC Proms debut), Bernard Rands’ Canti Lunatici, and recurring staged productions of Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire (with groups such as eighth blackbird, Da Capo Chamber Players and Da Camera of Houston). Her numerous festival appearances as a soloist and chamber musician have included the Aspen, Santa Fe, Ojai, Tanglewood, Chamber Music Northwest, Yellow Barn, Aldeburgh, Caen, Kuhmo, Lockenhaus and Salzburg festivals.

Among the major orchestras with which she has sung are those of Amsterdam, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, Cologne, Denver, London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Munich, St. Louis and Tokyo, with conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Mstislav Rostropovich, Marin Alsop, Leonard Slatkin, Oliver Knussen, Ingo Metzmacher, and Alan Gilbert. Ms. Shelton’s extensive discography is on the Nonesuch, Deutsche Grammophon, Koch International, NMC, Bridge, BIS, Naxos, Albany and Innova labels.

In 2007 Ms. Shelton joined the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music’s innovative Contemporary Performance Program. Previously she taught at the Eastman School, New England Conservatory, the Cleveland Institute, Curtis, Juilliard and the Tanglewood Music Center.

In recognition of her contribution to the field of Contemporary Music Ms. Shelton received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the New England Conservatory and Honorary Doctorate Degrees from both Pomona College and the Boston Conservatory. She was the 2023 recipient of Chamber Music America’s Bogomolny Lifetime Achievement Award.

A native of California, Ms. Shelton’s primary mentor was the legendary American mezzo-soprano Jan de Gaetani, whose integrity and intensity in music-making continue to be an inspiration.


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