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The Philadelphia Orchestra to Rename Hall in Honor of Civil Rights Movement Icon

The hall will be named for beloved contralto Marian Anderson, and the re-dedication will be celebrated with a concert on June 8

 

The Philadelphia Orchestra has elected to re-dedicate its hall in honor of contralto Marian Anderson (1897-1993), who was thrust to the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement when she was refused the right to sing to an integrated audience in D.C.'s Constitution Hall in 1939. She instead performed an open-air concert at the Lincoln Memorial to more than 75,000 people on Easter Sunday that year.

The hall, which was previously known as Verizon Hall, will be re-dedicated in Anderson's name following an unveiling ceremony on June 8, 2024 — with a concert to follow that evening. Verizon has held naming rights to the hall for the last 25 years, but these rights expired in January 2024.

In addition, the orchestra has partnered with the Philadelphia branch of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) to establish an endowed scholarship, also in Anderson's name. It will be awarded each year to two Black students from the Philadelphia region who are studying the performing arts or pursuing a career in arts administration.

"The Philly O has been on a journey to have a more inclusive and diverse repertoire, so you've been seeing the music of Florence Price, William Grant Still, Mary Lou Williams, Valerie Coleman, and many others alongside Brahms, Mahler, etc.," said Matías Tarnopolsky, the President of the Philadelphia Orchestra. "Anderson was [not only] a great artist but also an icon of the civil rights movement who used artistry for change."

"History cannot be rewritten, but there are many ways that music and the musical world can serve to right historic wrongs," he added.

"Knowing Marian, she would be humble," said Anderson's niece, Ginette DePriest. "She always used to say: ‘Don’t make any fuss about this,’ but I think that the fact that it’s her hometown that she adores — I think she would be obviously honored but mostly humbled by by this gesture."

 

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