Ensemble Arts Philly is the new presenting brand from The Philadelphia Orchestra and Kimmel Cultural Campus. LEARN MORE


Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts will be rededicated as Marian Anderson Hall, home of The Philadelphia Orchestra


Honoring the Civil Rights Icon: The Philadelphia Orchestra Renames Its Home to the Marian Anderson Hall

Posted by:  The Philadelphia Orchestra and Ensemble Arts on February 28, 2024

The Philadelphia Orchestra President and CEO Matías Tarnopolsky and Music and Artistic Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin are honored to announce that the Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts will be rededicated as the Marian Anderson Hall to honor the legendary contralto, civil rights icon, and Philadelphian! The Hall—home of The Philadelphia Orchestra—will officially be rededicated on June 8, 2024, and celebrated during the Great Stages Gala. The Gala will feature performances from Nézet-Séguin and The Philadelphia Orchestra with actress and singer Audra McDonald, soprano Angel Blue, jazz pianist Marcus Roberts, and more! 


Marian Anderson Hall Rededication Announcement Event


Born in Philadelphia on February 27, 1897, Marian Anderson was an acclaimed contralto who performed a wide range of music, from opera to spirituals, with renowned orchestra in major concert and recital venues through the United States and Europe between 1925 and 1965.


Mrs. Anderson is an important figure in the struggle for Black artists to overcome racial prejudice. Throughout her life, she was rejected from opportunities to sing due to her race, such as being denied from performing at Constitution Hall in Washington, DC, in 1939. This rejection sparked her to perform a historic open-air concert on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, singing before a crowd of more than 75,000 people and a radio audience in the millions.  



A portrait of American Contralto Marian Anderson, singing in front of a piano; circa. ~1935 


For over 20 years, between 1937 and 1957, she sang 12 times with The Philadelphia Orchestra. And on January 7, 1955, she became the first Black singer to perform a lead role at the Metropolitan Opera. After her retirement from singing in 1965, she joined the Orchestra to narrate Aaron Copland’s A Lincoln Portrait several times at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, New York, and at the Robin Hood Dell in Philadelphia, the last time in 1976, with the composer conducting. 


She served as a delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Committee and as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United States Department of State, giving concerts around the world. Anderson received the first Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963, the Congressional Gold Medal in 1977, the Kennedy Center Honors in 1978, the National Medal of Arts in 1986, and a GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award in 1991. 




Announced the day after what would have been Anderson’s 127th birthday, this momentous news marks the first major concert venue in the world to honor the late performer and trailblazer. Located in the heart of her hometown of Philadelphia, Marian Anderson Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts will be a permanent monument to its namesake’s artistry and achievements, a reflection of the inclusive future she helped to engender, and an active testament to the intersection of music, art, and positive social impact.  


The dedication of Marian Anderson Hall was named in her honor after a visionary $25 million philanthropic gift from Richard Worley and Leslie Miller. Additional generous support for the Marian Anderson Hall was given by Sidney and Caroline Kimmel. 



“Great Stages Gala , a multi-stage celebration that honors the history and importance of the performing arts in Philadelphia. The celebration this year will honor the newly rededicated Marian Anderson Hall. 


“History cannot be rewritten, but there are many ways that music and the musical world can serve to right historic wrongs,” said President and CEO Matías Tarnopolsky. “The rededication of the home of The Philadelphia Orchestra is the crescendo of one history lesson—and it will be a celebration in perpetuity of a great Black American artist. Now, this great Orchestra’s musical history continues in Marian Anderson Hall, as we forge a bright, inclusive artistic future in which music is for everyone. Our heartfelt thanks and appreciation go to Richard Worley and Leslie Miller for their leadership in this vision of the future.” 


“The legacy of Philadelphia native Marian Anderson is inscribed in the modern history of civil rights in America, and in musical history—from the prejudiced rejection of her artistry to the knowledge that she was one of the greatest voices of the 20th century,” said Music and Artistic Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. “Because she was denied the right to sing, Americans were denied the right to hear her extraordinary gifts. For years, The Philadelphia Orchestra and I have dedicated ourselves to creating a more representative art form through the music we perform. Now, we are proud to take this even further, to honor Marian Anderson with the first major concert venue named in her honor—and one of only a few in the world named for an artist—and we will perform with the joy of her ongoing presence in Marian Anderson Hall.” 



The newly renamed Marian Anderson Hall



As part of the rededication, The Philadelphia Orchestra is partnering with the UNCF (United Negro College Fund) on the creation of a Marian Anderson endowed scholarship. The scholarship will be awarded each year to two Black students from the Philadelphia region studying the performing arts or pursuing a career in performing arts administration at schools throughout the country.  


“I am particularly honored to be part of this amazing partnership between The Philadelphia Orchestra and UNCF,” said Richard Lee Snow, regional development director, UNCF Mid-Atlantic region. “While UNCF has helped over 500,000 students get to and through school since its founding 80 years ago, to be able to assist students under the banner of one of this country’s greatest citizens is the perfect way to celebrate our historic year. UNCF Philadelphia is privileged to have such an outstanding partner that shares its vision of helping students with their educational aspirations. This scholarship will certainly make a difference in the lives of students.”  


For more information and to donate to the Marian Anderson Hall rededication, please visit www.ensembleartsphilly.org/marianandersonhall 

< Previous Article Next Article >

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website and personalized content.

Learn More.