Scholarship Benefit Concert Helps Continue the Legacy of William Warfield

December 22, 2014

“William Warfield: A Legacy in Music,” the annual concert supporting the William Warfield Scholarship Fund and spotlighting its talented recipients, will feature soprano Alicia Rosser, a sophomore at the Eastman School of Music, at 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015, in the School’s Kilbourn Hall. 

The William Warfield Scholarship Fund was formed in 1977 to provide financial aid to talented and deserving voice students who attend the Eastman School of Music.  Recipients have included soprano Claron McFadden, who performs in opera roles and as a recitalist throughout Europe and is the recipient of the Amsterdam Prize for the Arts; sought-after lyric soprano Nicole Cabell, the 2005 winner of the high-profile BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition; and bass-baritone Jamal Moore, who was featured with the a cappella University of Rochester Yellowjackets on the national broadcast of The Sing-Off competition in 2011. 

The 2015 William Warfield Scholarship concert will be a tribute to the late baritone Derrick Smith, who performed in operatic roles and as a concert soloist in the United States, Brazil, and Europe. Mr. Smith, a former William Warfield Scholarship Fund recipient, died Nov. 18. 

Rosser, who is a sophomore in the studio of Robert McIver at Eastman, will perform a variety of classical and popular works: Handel’s “Alma mia”; Schubert’s “Die Forelle”; Mozart’s “Deh vieni, non tardar”; “Shelling Peas” by John Duke; and “Can’t help lovin’ dat man” by Jerome Kern. Also performing are the Dream Seeds Community Children’s Chorus, Mt. Vernon Missionary Baptist Church Male Chorus, Rochester Lyric Opera, and Thomas Warfield, founder of PeaceArt International and assistant professor at Rochester Institute of Technology/National Technical Institute for the Deaf. 

Rosser, 19, began her singing career in elementary school choirs in her hometown of Cheltenham, Md. She started voice lessons while attending Suitland High School, a public performing arts high school. Rosser participated in summer programs at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, the Washington National Opera Institute, and Little Patuxent Opera Institute, performing roles in several opera scenes including Mercedes in Carmen and Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro 

While in high school, Rosser also took part in several vocal competitions, earning first place in the advanced freshman/sophomore women category of the 2011 Mid-Atlantic National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) and in the advanced junior/senior women category of the 2012 Maryland/District of Columbia NATS competitions. 

At Eastman, Rosser received a Jury Award in her freshman year, and was a soloist in an Eastman Repertory Singers concert. She has worked as a summer resident assistant and currently is an usher with Eastman’s concert office. 

William Warfield was known worldwide for his work as a soloist, recitalist, actor, and narrator. Born in Arkansas, he moved to Rochester with his family as a young boy and attended Rochester city schools. During his senior year, he won the National Music Educators League Competition and a full scholarship to any American music school of his choice. Warfield chose the Eastman School of Music, where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 1942 and 1946, respectively. Perhaps best known for his portrayals of Porgy in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and of Joe, the dock hand, in the movie Showboat, he won a Grammy Award in 1984 for his narration of Aaron Copland’s A Lincoln Portrait accompanied by the Eastman Philharmonia. Warfield died in 2002 at the age of 82.

Tickets to the concert are $15 for the general public ($10 with student ID), and are available at the door. They are also sold in advance at the Eastman Theatre Box Office, 433 East Main St., by phone (585) 454-2100, or online at


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