Marilyn Taylor, soprano
A native of Louisville, Kentucky, soprano Marilyn Taylor received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and Master’s degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Louisville, studying with former German-based baritone Donn Everette-Graham. She completed a Doctorate in Vocal Performance from Indiana University in Bloomington, where she worked primarily with Classical Singer Magazine’s 2010 “Teacher of the Year” Virginia Zeani. While completing coursework she studied with Nicola Rossi-Lemeni, Giorgio Tozzi and Gary Arvin. with minors in Music History and Speech and Hearing Sciences, specializing in “The Study of Professional Voice, Theory and Applications,” and “Voice Disorders.” Her research document Songs in the Wilderness: the Music and Heritage of Charles Gildersleeve Vardell unearthed new information about the life and output of this North Carolina composer who contributed significantly to the region’s musical culture.
Beginning her professional career as Artist-in-Residence with Kentucky Opera, she received accolades for leading roles there and with other regional companies (Des Moines, Nashville, Dayton, Chattanooga, Piedmont Opera, more.) Her concert repertoire ranged from the Baroque to the avant-garde abroad and at home (the Bonn Orchestra, Prague Chamber Orchestra, the Flannéries Musicales d’Eté de Reims, Alba Music Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music, the National Gallery in Washington, DC, Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall) and various chamber orchestras and choral societies throughout the country. As a Kentuckian, she was proud to share billing with John Denver and Florence Henderson for the opening of the Riverpark Center in Owensboro, Kentucky. In 2016 she was named Distinguished Alumna by her Alma Mater, the University of Louisville’s School of Music.
Taylor was the recipient of an award from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Regional Auditions, a generous career grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and in 1990 a George London Grant awarded to singers “demonstrating a full range of singing, acting, and musical talent.” The NY Times praised her performances of Mahler and Monteverdi with conductor Dennis Russell Davies, and in Germany she was lauded as a “figure commanding respect and attention” for Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. A proponent of contemporary music, she collaborated with composers William Bolcom, Robert Ward, Warren Benson, John Harbison, George Rochberg, and noted UNCSA composers Kenneth Frazelle and Larry Dillon. Her solo CD Return: Art Songs from Carolina, featuring works by Kenneth Frazelle, Robert Ward and Charles Vardell received critical acclaim. She has recorded with Koch, Albany, G. Schirmer and South Carolina ED-TV, portraying the role of Alida in Robert Ward’s Roman Fever, available on DVD.
Dr. Taylor joined the Artist-Faculty of the (University of) North Carolina School of the Arts in 1992 at the recommendation of Piedmont Opera’s founder, Norman Johnson. Serving as Chair of the Voice Department in the School of Music for several years, she was bestowed in 2009 with the University of North Carolina Board of Governors’ Award for Excellence in Teaching. She served as Master Teacher for the NATS Residency Program, and in the past three years has traveled to Beijing and Shenzhen, China as Artist and Master Teacher; to St. Louis for the OTSL Monsanto Young Artist Program as Visiting Artist-in-Residency; and to the Eastman School of Music to teach students of Anthony Dean Griffey during his engagement at the Metropolitan Opera.
Several of her students have been winners at the District and Regional Metropolitan Opera auditions, as well as the National competition in NY. She travels when possible to see her students performing all over the world, on the mainstage or as apprentices with the Chicago Lyric Opera, Metropolitan Opera, Houston Grand, Spoleto Festival, Santa Fe Opera, Opera Theater St. Louis, Zurich Opera, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, and many more.