AIM Celebrates Black History Month: A Conversation with George Shirley

AIM’s February Saturday Social will feature legendary tenor and former Montclair resident George Shirley. During a career that spans more than 60 years, Mr. Shirley has won national and international acclaim as a performer, teacher and lecturer. As a teacher, he was the first African American hired as a high school music teacher in his native Detroit. He continued to break down barriers as the first African American member of the US Army Chorus and the first African American tenor to perform a leading role at the Metropolitan Opera, where he was a soloist for eleven years. In appearances around the world, he has performed more than 80 operatic roles as well as oratorio, recital and concert literature and worked with some of the world’s most renowned conductors. Mr. Shirley will be interviewed about his long and illustrious career by Montclair resident Patrizia Cioffi, a soprano soloist and voice teacher. Mr. Shirley and Ms. Cioffi have known each other for many years. She studied with him early in her career; after she founded the New School for the Arts/NJ Opera Institute, he served for many years as its Artistic Director.

George Shirley

George Shirley is the Joseph Edgar Maddy Distinguished University Emeritus Professor of Music (Voice) at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater and Dance. In 2011, with the aid of the Videmus Foundation, he established the George Shirley African American Art Song and Operatic Aria Competition for high school and college students. He received the 2014 National Medal of Arts, presented to him by President Barack Obama. He credits his parents and Detroit’s African American community with nurturing his love of music and his musical talent.

Patrizia Cioffi

Patrizia Cioffi studied at The Juilliard School, Westminster Choir College, and the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree cum laude from Mount Holyoke College. She served on the National Endowment for the Arts and the NJ State Council on the Arts for decades as a fellow, intern, panel member and evaluator. Ms. Cioffi was the founder and Executive Director of the New School for the Arts/NJ Opera Institute and Business Manager of the Whole Theatre Company. She is currently the Artistic Director of Le voci internationali.

This event takes place Saturday, February 26, at 4 p.m. Sign up at the following link:

For more information, please contact Aging in Montclair at / 973 707-5088

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  1. When Don Miller painted his famous MLK Mural in his Montclair Studio Gil Noble recorded a special edition of Like It is in Montclair in 1986 with the mural as a backdrop and music by Don Shirley. I’m wondering if George Shirley is related?

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