Since it was founded in 1977, the William Warfield Scholarship Fund, Inc. (WWSF) has provided financial aid to more than 35 African American students at the Eastman School of Music, 15 African American high school classical singers across the United States, and spotlighted talented Eastman recipients in an annual benefit concert. This year’s benefit concert will be held on Sunday, June 12, 2022, at 2 p.m. in Kilbourn Hall and features the 2020-22 Eastman scholarship recipient, Jazmine Saunders ‘22E, and Jorell Williams, first place winner of the 2018 Rochester International Vocal Competition, as well as Audience Choice Award.
Joining Saunders and Williams on the concert program are: Thomas Warfield, William Warfield Scholarship Fund President Emeritus/Artist; First Inversion choral ensemble with conductor Lee Wright ‘03E, ‘18E (DMA), WWSF Board Member; Fred Redd, international artist and WWSF Board Member, accompanied by Eastman’s Professor Emeritus Harold Danko; Mount Vernon Baptist Church ensemble; Kevin Nitsch ‘92E (MM), ‘95E (DMA), pianist; and Concert Emcee Deanna Dewberry, Anchor and Investigative Reporter, News10 NBC, WHEC-TV.
This year’s 2022 William Warfield Legacy Award will be presented to Michael Warfield and Thomas Warfield.
Over four decades, recipients of the William Warfield Scholarship have included such notable singers as Eastman alumna and current faculty member soprano Nicole Cabell‚01E (1999-2001), winner of the 2005 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition; Julia Bullock ‚09E (2007-2009), Musical America’s 2021 “Artist of the Year”, singer and choirmaster Jason Alexander Holmes ‚07E (2006-2007) Artistic Director of the Cincinnati Boychoir; bass-baritone Jamal Moore, who was featured with the University of Rochester a cappella ensemble The Yellowjackets on NBC‘s The Sing-Off in 2011; and Adrienne Danrich (1991-1993) Midwest EMMY winner for her performance and narration of This Little Light of Mine: The Stories of Marian Anderson and Leontyne Price.
“The William Warfield scholarship has been such a blessing and absolutely crucial to my studies at the Eastman School of Music. Because this board has invested in me, I have been able to pursue my aspirations while feeling empowered, loved, and supported as a black classical singer. I am forever grateful for this honor, and to contribute to carrying on Dr. Warfield’s legacy,” says Saunders.
“This year commemorates 45 years of our board providing financial support to African American students desiring a career in classical vocal music and continuing to promote the life and legacy of William Warfield. Building a legacy is one thing, and passing it on to the next generation is another. Your continued support and donations help strengthen the purpose of our board’s mission for future generations to come,” stated Lolita Forsett, President of the WWSF Board of Directors.
Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door, $10 students with ID and can be purchased at: www.Eastmantheatre.org
Please consider increasing your support for the WWSF by donating here: www.williamwarfield.org/contribute/
For more information, visit: William Warfield Scholarship Fund.
Media Only: Katey Padden, Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator, (585)451-8492, email@example.com
William Warfield Scholarship Fund, Lolita Forsett, President of the Board, (585) 202-3686, firstname.lastname@example.org
Artists performing at the Scholarship Fund Concert include:
Jazmine Saunders, soprano, is a senior undergraduate Voice Performance major at the Eastman School of Music and is a 2020-2022 William Warfield Scholarship Fund recipient.
Jorell Williams is an American operatic baritone with a wide variety of experience from standard repertoire to premiere pieces. He is an advocate for artist rights and is a newly appointed artistic council advisor for On-Site Opera and the new music board for the Brooklyn Art Song Society, using his experience to consult with arts organizations on their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives.
Thomas Warfield, an international performing artist, has lived in six countries. He is founder/artistic director of PeaceArt, a 32-year-old global peace organization. Thomas Warfield has been Director of Dance at the Rochester Institute of Technology for 24 years. He has served on many boards: World Dance Alliance (Hong Kong), ARTWalk, Rochester Arts Council, Young Audiences, Greentopia, Rochester City Ballet, Gateways Music Festival, Rochester Area Community Foundation, Rochester Fringe Festival, NYS Association of Teaching Artists, NY Dance Festival, and was a former president of the William Warfield Scholarship Fund.
Baritone Fred Redd has performed throughout the United States and internationally in concert, opera, musical theater, radio, TV, and film, receiving glowing reviews in London’s Opera Now, Opera News, and the New York Times, among others. Fred is an active board member with the William Warfield Scholarship Fund and Creative Stage Collective. Fred is constantly on the go, and his MBA from Rochester Institute of Technology and engineering degree makes him a regular consultant on projects across the United States.
First Inversion brings together professional and avocational singers from Greater Rochester with the goal of artistic and personal growth for all through a focus on fearless and selfless musical expression. First Inversion’s diverse repertoire has ranged from works of Purcell and Hasse on Rochester’s Early Music Festival to works of Caroline Shaw and Peteris Vasks on the Canandaigua Lake Chamber Music Festival.
The Mt. Vernon Missionary Baptist Church Music Ministry has ministered through song since the church’s inception in 1939. The church’s history includes the renowned singer and actor William C. Warfield, whose father Rev. Robert E. Warfield, was called to pastor the church from 1947 until his death in 1966. Mt. Vernon’s Male Chorus began under the leadership of Thaddeus Warfield, the youngest brother of William Warfield, who served as Minister of Music until his retirement in 1993.
Kevin Nitsch is a pianist, collaborator and teacher in the Rochester area. He performs regularly with Rochester Oratorio Society, Finger Lakes Opera, Lyric Opera and Madrigalia; and, holds a MM and a DMA in Performance and Literature in Piano Performance from the Eastman School of Music.
Deanna Dewberry is a multi-award winning anchor and investigative reporter with more than two decades of experience in television news. Deanna is a dedicated advocate for breast cancer research and her advocacy has earned her 12 regional Emmy Awards, which included being named the region’s top consumer reporter.
About the William Warfield Scholarship Fund
Formed in March 1977 (incorporated in 1979) under the leadership of Anastasia L. “Tessa” Martin to honor the life and legacy of William Warfield, we are a 15-member board, 100% volunteer operated with no paid personnel.
The William Warfield Scholarship Fund is dedicated to providing financial support and encouragement for African American students to attain success in the field of classical vocal music; and fostering wider recognition of the life and legacy of William Warfield.
We provide an annual scholarship for African American vocal students at the Eastman School of Music, and an annual scholarship concert and spring luncheon that feature our Eastman scholarship recipient. Now in its fourth year, the “William Warfield Classical Vocal Competition for African American High School Students” provides financial support and encouragement to African American students in schools across the country.
What Are Future Goals for the WWSF?
As our financial and volunteer resources allow, we will develop educational programs that inform the public about the life and legacy of William Warfield; and continue to identify ways to support African American classical vocal students and their careers.
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About William Warfield
William Warfield was born in West Helena, Arkansas on January 22, 1920, the oldest of five sons of a Baptist minister and sharecropper. His parents, Robert and Bertha McCamery Warfield, were the children of African American slaves. In 1925 his father moved his family north to Rochester to seek better educational and employment opportunities.
William graduated from Rochester city schools and earned a New York state cosmetology license. During his senior high school year, he won the National Music Educators League Competition and a full scholarship to any American music school of his choice. William chose the Eastman School of Music, where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 1942 and 1946.
He described how he encountered virulent racism as he started working in his professional field, recounting painful memories of racial slurs, closed doors. and impossible barriers. Opportunities for an African American male opera singer remained too limited, but concert tours and popular music scenes presented him with ample professional fulfillment. “Opera wasn’t ready for me, or any black male …But it never occurred to me to give up.”
William was known worldwide for his work as a soloist, recitalist, actor, narrator, and activist. He was acclaimed throughout the world as one of the great vocal artists of our time, was a star in every field open to a singer’s art and was one of the world’s leading experts on Negro Spirituals and German Lieder. Best known for his portrayals of Porgy in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and of Joe, the dock hand, in the movie Show Boat, he won a Grammy in 1984 for his narration of Aaron Copland’s A Lincoln Portrait accompanied by the Eastman Philharmonia. In 1991, he published his uncommonly personal memoir, My Music & My Life.
Warfield died at age 82 on August 25, 2002, in Chicago from complications from a broken neck suffered in a fall. He is buried in Rochester’s Mt. Hope Cemetery. Many members of his family continue to live in Rochester.
About Eastman School of Music:
The Eastman School of Music was founded in 1921 by industrialist and philanthropist George Eastman (1854-1932), founder of Eastman Kodak Company. It was the first professional school of the University of Rochester. Mr. Eastman’s dream was that his school would provide a broad education in the liberal arts as well as superb musical training.
More than 900 students are enrolled in the Collegiate Division of the Eastman School of Music—about 500 undergraduates and 400 graduate students. They come from almost every state, and approximately 23 percent are from other countries. They are taught by a faculty comprised of more than 130 highly regarded performers, composers, conductors, scholars, and educators. They are Pulitzer Prize winners, Grammy winners, Emmy winners, Guggenheim fellows, ASCAP Award recipients, published authors, recording artists, and acclaimed musicians who have performed in the world’s greatest concert halls. Each year, Eastman’s students, faculty members, and guest artists present more than 900 concerts to the Rochester community. Additionally, more than 1,700 members of the Rochester community, from young children through senior citizens, are enrolled in the Eastman Community Music School.
The three-semester-long Eastman Centennial celebration began in Fall 2021 and continues throughout 2022. Highlights include acclaimed guest artists performing alongside Eastman’s ensembles; national academic and music conferences; alumni events throughout the country; a documentary being produced in partnership with WXXI, and more. For up-to-date information on the Eastman Centennial, including feature stories, future events, videos, testimonials, ways to engage, and more, please visit our Centennial website at https://www.esm.rochester.edu/100.
About the University of Rochester:
The University of Rochester is one of the nation’s leading private research universities, one of only 62-member institutions in the Association of American Universities. Located in Rochester, N.Y., the University gives undergraduates exceptional opportunities for interdisciplinary study and close collaboration with faculty through its unique cluster-based curriculum. Its College, School of Arts and Sciences, and Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences are complemented by the Eastman School of Music, Simon School of Business, Warner School of Education, Laboratory for Laser Energetics, School of Medicine and Dentistry, School of Nursing, Eastman Institute for Oral Health, and the Memorial Art Gallery.