Born: February 25, 1944
Even though American soprano Lucy Shelton is best known for her high-flying, passionate performances of contemporary music, she has never restricted her musical air space to a single century or just a handful of styles; she is as comfortable in the works of Handel as in those of Wolfgang Rihm. Shelton was born in Pomona, CA, in February 1944, and studied at Pomona College (until 1965) and then at the New England Conservatory of Music (M.M., 1968) under Gladys Miller. In her mid-thirties, Shelton was twice recipient of top prize at the prestigious Naumburg Competition -- first, in 1977, as part of the Jubal Trio, and then in 1980 as a soloist. The Naumburg success threw Shelton's career into high gear, and she kept herself busy both as an ensemble singer (perhaps most significantly with the Waverly Consort) and as an increasingly in-demand solo vocalist with a rare passion for new music. In this latter role, Shelton has been the inspiration for a body of important works by high-profile composers. Joseph Schwantner composed his Magabunda for her, Olivier Knussen his Whitman Settings; and the grandmaster of new American music, Elliott Carter, provided her with a work called Of Challenge and Love. From the 1990s on, she has brought this appreciation of non-standard song literature to a large class of students, both at the New England Conservatory of Music and at Tanglewood. Lucy Shelton is also active, though less prominently so, in the world of opera, most notably when she sang the role of Jenifer in a British-TV production of Michael Tippett's Midsummer Marriage.