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Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts will be rededicated as Marian Anderson Hall, home of The Philadelphia Orchestra
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Marian Anderson Hall:Rededicated June 8, 2024
Honoring an Artistic and Civil Rights Icon

Marian Anderson Hall, now and forever.

On Saturday, June 8, 2024, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts’ main concert hall was officially rededicated as Marian Anderson Hall, home of The Philadelphia Orchestra, in honor of the legendary contralto, civil rights icon, and Philadelphian.

The first major concert venue in the world to honor the late performer and trailblazer, Marian Anderson Hall is now 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. Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle L. called the rededication the melding of “one of the preeminent concert halls in the nation” with the name of “one of Philadelphia’s giants.”

In celebration, June 8, 2024 was declared “Marian Anderson Day” in both the city and commonwealth.

Marian Anderson was born in South Philadelphia in 1897 and forged a major international career as a pioneering vocalist. She was a recitalist and recording artist, both in Europe and the United States, and was the first Black artist to sing at the Metropolitan Opera. Marian Anderson Hall was dedicated 85 years after Ms. Anderson was denied the opportunity to perform at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. because of her race, singing instead for a crowd of over 75,000 at the Lincoln Memorial. 

Throughout her life, Marian Anderson emblemized the idea that music can change the world. It is our hope that Marian Anderson Hall will inspire everyone who comes through its doors with the idea that the arts are a transformative force for good in the world. We hope you will join us as we forge a bright, inclusive future in which the arts are for everyone.

To ensure this work continues long into the future, we have partnered with the Philadelphia branch of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) to establish an endowed scholarship in honor of Ms. Anderson, to be awarded each year to two Black students from the Philadelphia region studying the performing arts or pursuing a career in arts administration at schools throughout the country.

“My new routine before stepping on the stage is to just look at her photograph and try to be worthy. She will be our North Star guiding our future and continuing to make a lasting impact. At the heart of our work is the belief that the arts are for everyone.” —Philadelphia Orchestra Music and Artistic Director Yannick Nézet- Séguin on Marian Anderson

 

The dedication of Marian Anderson Hall was named in her honor by a visionary philanthropic gift from Richard Worley and Leslie Miller. We extend our deepest gratitude for their transformative leadership. Additional generous support for Marian Anderson Hall was given by Sidney and Caroline Kimmel. We also thank the family and estate of Marian Anderson, whose enthusiasm and support for this initiative have been crucial.

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Thank you for your interest in making a gift to celebrate Marian Anderson Hall. While the opportunity to receive a commemorative gift has passed, we encourage you to make a gift to The Philadelphia Orchestra in honor of Marian Anderson Hall. We hope to see you in our great concert hall soon!

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Marian Anderson with pianist Franz Rupp | Spring `1951

Marian Anderson with pianist Franz Rupp | Spring `1951

Marian Anderson  | April 16, 1946

Marian Anderson | April 16, 1946

Marian Anderson with a group of children | Late 1960s

Marian Anderson with a group of children | Late 1960s

Marian Anderson sings with pianist Kosti Vehanen at the Lincoln Memorial in front of a crowd of 75,000 people | Easter Sunday, April 09, 1939

Marian Anderson sings with pianist Kosti Vehanen at the Lincoln Memorial | Easter Sunday, April 09, 1939

Marian Anderson shakes hands with Harold L. Ickes at the Lincoln Memorial | April 09, 1939

Marian Anderson with Harold L. Ickes at the Lincoln Memorial | April 09, 1939

Marian Anderson receives the Spingarn Award from Eleanor Roosevelt | July 02, 1939

Marian Anderson receives the Spingarn Award from Eleanor Roosevelt | July 02, 1939

Marian Anderson sits on the lawn with her dog at her home in Danbury, Connecticut | April, 1949

Marian Anderson at her home in Danbury, Connecticut | April, 1949

Marian Anderson with Airmen at Fort Logan Air Force Base, Colorado | March 1943

Marian Anderson with Airmen at Fort Logan Air Force Base, Colorado | March, 1943

Marian Anderson in Japan | May, 1953

Marian Anderson in Japan | May, 1953

Marian Anderson with a group of children | ca. 1955

Marian Anderson with a group of children | ca. 1955

Marian Anderson in Brisbane, Australia with a koala | 1962

Marian Anderson in Brisbane, Australia | 1962

Franz Rupp, Marian Anderson, and John F. Kennedy | March, 1962

Franz Rupp, Marian Anderson, and John F. Kennedy | March, 1962

Marian Anderson Hall on stage at Carnegie, New York | April 18, 1965

Marian Anderson Hall on stage at Carnegie, New York | April 18, 1965

About Marian Anderson

Born in Philadelphia in 1897, Marian Anderson showed an affinity for music from a very early age. Her faith community recognized a budding talent that needed nurturing and encouraged her. Growing up, she frequently sang for her congregation at the Union Baptist Church and with other choral groups in Philadelphia. Eager to further her vocal training, she applied to the Philadelphia Musical Academy at 1617 Spruce Street, a conservatory of approximately 2,000 students. Denied admission because of her race, she sought private instruction, supported, in part, financially by Union Baptist congregants and her community. Her persistence first paid dividends in 1918, when, at 21, she made her debut at the Academy of Music on Broad Street with the New York Syncopated Clef Club, presented by G. Grant Williams, a concert promoter and editor of The Philadelphia Tribune.

In the ensuing years, Ms. Anderson made her Carnegie Hall debut and began to see a degree of career success. However, she struggled to gain a firm foothold in the American classical music scene. Her experience with the Philadelphia Musical Academy had been a harbinger of discrimination to come. Determined to forge a career as a classical singer, she traveled to Europe, which at the time was friendlier to Black artists. Her efforts met with popular acceptance and approval, particularly in Scandinavian countries, where she caused “Marian Fever.” Returning to the United States a global phenomenon, she continued to encounter racism, including when she was to perform a recital in Princeton, New Jersey, and was denied lodging at hotels because of her race. The scientist Albert Einstein intervened, offering her a room at his home, and creating a life-long friendship in the process.

The impact of discrimination on Ms. Anderson’s career came into public focus in 1939, when the Daughters of the American Revolution withdrew their permission for her to sing at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. Supported by her manager Sol Hurok, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, and sponsored by Philadelphia Orchestra Music Director Leopold Stokowski and others, she turned the Lincoln Memorial into a historically significant stage. There, she sang a mix of classical repertoire and spirituals, including “My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord,” arranged by Florence Price, before an audience of more than 75,000 and a radio audience in the millions. That legendary performance, given on April 9, 1939, was a formative moment in the nascent Civil Rights movement, a powerful rebuke to bigotry and injustice. A 10-year-old Martin Luther King, Jr., reportedly heard it; 24 years later, he invited Ms. Anderson back to the Mall to sing at his March on Washington, as an icon of the ongoing fight for equity and access.

Marian Anderson went on to become the first Black singer to perform a leading role at the Metropolitan Opera. Over the course of her extraordinary career, she sang 12 times with The Philadelphia Orchestra, and, after her retirement from singing, narrated Aaron Copland’s A Lincoln Portrait with the Orchestra four times, including with Copland himself conducting. Ms. Anderson 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. She 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.

Ms. Anderson passed away on April 8, 1993, just one day shy of the 54th anniversary of her historic Lincoln Memorial performance. She is interred at Eden Cemetary in Collingdale, PA.

Honorary Chairs of the Marian Anderson Hall Rededication

Stacey Abrams
Marin Alsop
Martina Arroyo
Christine Baranski
Jamie Bernstein
Robert W. Bogle
Joan Myers Brown
Joseph Conyers
Misty Copeland
Ginette DePreist
Jennifer DePreist
Ava DuVernay
Renard Edwards
Renée Fleming
Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Clive Gillinson
Denyce Graves
Chris Hyams
Sherrilyn Ifill
Nicole Jordan
David Kim
Yo-Yo Ma
Wynton Marsalis
Audra McDonald
Bobby McFerrin
Yannick Nézet-Séguin
Leontyne Price
Sheryl Lee Ralph
Maura Roosevelt
Nicholas Roosevelt
Booker Rowe
Robert F. Smith
Pierre Tourville
John Williams

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