Born: 1944 (Pomona, California)
“In the forefront was Lucy Shelton, a new-music diva if there ever was one, performing with fire, sensitivity, astounding surety of pitch, and what seemed like love abounding.”
—The Boston Globe
The winner of two Walter W. Naumburg Awards—for chamber music (Jubal Trio in 1977) and a 1980 Vocal Award — Lucy Shelton, soprano, is an internationally recognized exponent of 20th- and 21st-Century repertory, having premiered more than 100 works by many of today’s preeminent composers. Notable among these are Elliott Carter’s Tempo e Tempi and Of Challenge and Of Love, Oliver Knussen’s Whitman Settings, Joseph Schwantner’s Magabunda, Poul Ruders’s The Bells, Stephen Albert’s Flower of the Mountain, and Robert Zuidam’s opera Rage d’Amours. She has premiered Gerard Grisey’s L’Icone Paradoxiale with the Los Angeles Philharmonic; sung Pierre Boulez’s Le Visage Nuptial under the composer’s direction in Los Angeles, Chicago, London and Paris; performed György Kurtag’s The Sayings of Peter Bornemisza with pianist Sir Andras Schiff in Vienna and Berlin; and made her Aldeburgh Festival debut in the premiere of Alexander Goehr’s Sing, Ariel. Ms. Shelton has exhibited special skill in dramatic 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), and Bernard Rands’ Canti Lunatici.
Highlights of past seasons include Ms. Shelton’s 2010 Grammy Nomination (with the Enso Quartet) for the Naxos release of Ginastera’s string quartets; her Zankel Hall debut with the Met Chamber Orchestra and Maestro James Levine in Carter’s A Mirror On Which To Dwell; and, in celebration of the work’s centenary, multiple performances of a staged Pierrot Lunaire with ten different ensembles worldwide (including eighth blackbird, the Da Capo Chamber Players, and Da Camera of Houston).
Ms. Shelton’s numerous festival appearances have included the Aspen, Santa Fe, Ojai, Tanglewood, Chamber Music Northwest, Caen, and Salzburg festivals. Among the major orchestras with which she has worked are those of Amsterdam, Boston, Chicago, Cologne, St. Louis, Denver, London, New York, Paris, Munich, and Tokyo, working with such conductors as Sir Simon Rattle, Mstislav Rostropovich, Marin Alsop, Leonard Slatkin, Ingo Metzmacher, and Alan Gilbert. Ms. Shelton’s extensive discography is on the Nonesuch, Deutsche Grammophon, Koch International, NMC, Bridge, BIS, Albany and Innova labels.
Ms. Shelton’s primary mentor was mezzo-soprano Jan De Gaetani. In recognition of her contribution to the field of contemporary music, she received Honorary Doctorate Degrees from both Pomona College (2003) and the Boston Conservatory (2013). Ms. Shelton has taught at the Third Street Settlement School in Manhattan, the Eastman School, the New England Conservatory, the Cleveland Institute, the Tanglewood Music Center, and the Britten-Pears School. In the fall of 2007, she joined the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music’s innovative Contemporary Performance Program. Additionally, Shelton teaches privately in her New York City studio.
Ms. Shelton was the recipient of the Chamber Music America' 2023 Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award, given to an individual or organization who has made a significant and lasting contribution to the chamber music field and enriched our cuture by fostering a greater appreciation for chamber music.