On Wings of Song

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Mondays through April bring back a long running vocal recital series to WQXR. On Wings of Song was the brain child of mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne. The series started on stages in 1995 and shortly after that, on the radio. But this series is coming to a halt. Or rather, a change. After this season, it will be folded into The Song Continues, a series at Carnegie Hall.

These last four episodes of music by young singers and pianists were recorded in Christ and St. Steven’s Church in New York. To create the radio commentary, I requested Marilyn Horne join me, for which she graciously agreed. She joined me in a studio, along with Barbara Hocher, the Executive Director of the Marilyn Horne Foundation. Simple math will tell you that since we needed about 10 minutes of commentary per show, and we had 4 shows, we only needed to talk for about 40 minutes. However, we were in the studio for 3 hours. It is honor to do what I do and interview some of the best artists in the world. The words of wisdom and stories I receive are often priceless and give me the reason to really love my work. As you can hear in the shows, Marilyn is amazing. She has been through much: as a young singer, a controversial marriage, superstardom and now teacher and mentor.

On the April 19th Episode, we go into length about her late husband Henry Lewis. First of all, long time listeners to New York public radio may remember a radio announcer named Henry Lewis. It is not the same person. Marilyn’s late husband was a ground breaking African American musician and conductor. He was the first African American to lead a major symphony orchestra. In addition, the ‘mixed marriage’ to Marilyn was also ground breaking. She was told at the time, “it will end your career.” Far from it. He is often credited for much of the success of her career. This year’s series of On Wings of Song is dedicated to the memory of Henry Lewis.

I hope you enjoy the programs and the wise, funny and engaging words of Marilyn Horne.

Click here to watch a video of Marilyn performing "People" from Funny Girl on The Odd Couple.

Did any of you see Henry Lewis conduct? Do you have any great memories of seeing Marilyn Horne sing? Please share!