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Congratulations to tenor George Shirley upon receiving a National Medal of Arts yesterday from President Barack Obama!

Shirley receiving the medal from President Obama on September 9, 2015 (image retrieved from this site)

Shirley receiving the medal from President Obama at the White House on September 9, 2015 (image retrieved from this site)

The medal is the highest award given to artists by the United States government and is awarded by the president to individuals or organizations who “are deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support, and availability of the arts in the United States.”

George Shirley has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on multiple occasions—as tenor soloist and narrator—and a complete list of his performances is below (subscription concerts at Orchestra Hall, unless otherwise noted):

George Shirley

December 16, 18, and 19, 1970
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125
Georg Solti, conductor
Helen Donath, soprano
Huguette Tourangeau, mezzo-soprano
George Shirley, tenor
Martti Talvela, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

July 22, 1972 (Ravinia Festival)
BERLIOZ Romeo and Juliet, Op. 17
Seiji Ozawa, conductor
Mignon Dunn, mezzo-soprano
George Shirley, tenor
Justino Díaz, bass-baritone
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

November 1, 2, and 3, 1973
BEETHOVEN Missa solemnis in D Major, Op. 123
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Wendy Fine, soprano (November 1)
Sarah Beatty, soprano (November 2 and 3)
Julia Hamari, mezzo-soprano
George Shirley, tenor
Theo Adam, bass-baritone (November 1 and 2)
Thomas Paul, bass (November 3)
Chicago Symphony Chorus
Margaret Hillis, director

December 18, 1974 (Carnegie Hall)
STRAUSS Salome
Salome Birgit Nilsson, soprano
Herodias Ruth Hesse, mezzo-soprano
Herod Antipas Ragnar Ulfung, tenor
Jokanaan Norman Bailey, baritone
Slave Sarah Beatty, soprano
The Page of Herodias Sandra Walker, mezzo-soprano
Narraboth George Shirley, tenor
Cappadocian Gershon Silins, bass
Two Nazarenes Cory Winter, tenor; Franz Mazura, bass-baritone
Four Jews Philip Creech, Jerry Jennings, John Lanigan, and William Wahman, tenors; Eugene Johnson, bass
Two Soldiers Curtis Dickson and Thomas Paul, basses

May 6, 7, 8, and 11, 1999
IVES Three Places in New England
John Adams, conductor
George Shirley, reader
(To set the stage for each section, Shirley read texts by Charles Ives and Henry David Thoreau.)

Congratulations!

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With the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Sir Georg Solti conducted Beethoven’s Missa solemnis on three sets of concerts:

November 1, 2, and 3, 1973, at Orchestra Hall
Victor Aitay, violin
Wendy Fine, soprano (November 1)
Sarah Beatty, soprano (November 2 and 3)
Julia Hamari, mezzo-soprano
George Shirley, tenor
Theo Adam, bass (November 1 and 2)
Thomas Paul, bass (November 3)
Chicago Symphony Chorus; Margaret Hillis, director

There were multiple cast changes due to illnesses, both before and after the programs were printed. About a week before the performances, George Shirley replaced Peter Schreier. Karl Ridderbusch was replaced the day before the first performance by Theo Adam, who was in town for Wagner’s Siegfried at Lyric Opera; he sang the first two performances and Thomas Paul sang the third. Following the first performance, Wendy Fine was replaced by Sarah Beatty.

May 5, 6, and 7, 1977, at Orchestra Hall
May 13, 1977, at Carnegie Hall
Victor Aitay, violin
Lucia Popp, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Mallory Walker, tenor
Gwynne Howell, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus; Margaret Hillis, director

Following the Carnegie Hall performance, the work was recorded for London Records with multiple sessions in Chicago’s Medinah Temple. Ray Minshull was the producer and Kenneth Wilkinson, John Dunkerley, and Michael Mailes were the engineers.

The recording won the 1978 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance, Classical (other than opera) from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

January 12, 13, and 14, 1984, at Orchestra Hall
January 16, 1984, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Samuel Magad, violin
Felicity Lott, soprano
Diana Montague, mezzo-soprano
Siegfried Jerusalem, tenor
Simon Estes, bass
Chicago Symphony Chorus; Margaret Hillis, director

Available reviews are here (1973), here (1977), and here (1984).

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