PAUL SPERRY is recognized as one of today’s outstanding interpreters of American music. Although he is equally at home in a repertoire that extends from Monteverdi opera and the Bach Passions to Britten’s Nocturne and hundreds of songs in more than a dozen languages, he brings to American music a conviction and an enthusiasm that has brought it to life for countless listeners.
Many of today’s leading composers have written works specially for him; Sperry has world premieres of works by more than thirty Americans to his credit. He premiered Leonard Bernstein’s Dybbuk Suite with the composer conducting the New York Philharmonic, Jacob Druckman’s Animus IV for the opening of the Centre Georges Pompidou at Beaubourg in Paris in 1977, and Paul Sperry and Bernard Rands’ Pulitzer Prize winning Canti del Sole with the New York Philharmonic in l983 under Zubin Mehta. Other composers whose works he has premiered include Robert Beaser, William Bolcom, Victoria Bond, Daniel Brewbaker, Tom Cipullo, Nathan Currier, Daron Hagen, Richard Hundley, William Kraft, Libby Larsen, Harold Meltzer, John Musto, Stephen Paulus, Russell Platt, Robert Rodriguez, Larry Alan Smith, Louise Talma, Francis Thorne, Nicholas Thorne, Dan Welcher, Richard Wilson and Charles Wuorinen and Judith Lang Zaimont.
Because he is a passionate advocate for American music, Sperry has tried to insure that many of the wonderful works he has unearthed will be easily available to others. To that end, he has compiled and edited several volumes of American songs, both anthologies and single composer collections for G. Schirmer, Peer-Southern, Boosey & Hawkes, Carl Fischer and Dover Publications. His collection American Encores was released by Oxford University Press in October, 2002. In 1989 he became the first non-composer to be elected president of the American Music Center, a national organization which provides information all over the world about American composers and their music. He held that position for three years and served severn years as Chairman of the Board of the American Composers Orchestra, the only orchestra in the world devoted to the performance of American Music.
Paul Sperry’s recordings of American music include five CDs of American song available on Albany Records, the most recent is of new song cycles by Tom Cipullo, Daron Hagen, Libby Larsen and Pulitzer Prize winner, Paul Moravec, as well as numerous songs and chamber works available on DG, CRI, Crystal, Musical Heritage, Summit and Nonesuch Records, and he is one of four singers to have recorded the complete songs of Charles Ives for Albany Records. Other recordings include four releases on Zephyr records with pianist Ian Hobson: Les chemins de l’amour, Songs of Poulenc, Great Composers Love Folksongs Too, and Schubert’s Winterreise, plus a two-CD box, Byways of French Song.
He taught classes in song interpretation and performance at the Juilliard School from 1984-2007, where he created what may have been the country’s first full-year course in American song. He also teaches courses in American song at the Manhattan School of Music in New York and in 19th and 20th century song at the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music. In the summer he serves on the faculty of SongFest at Pepperdine, a festival in Malibu, California. Since 1987 he has been the Director of Joy In Singing, an organization dedicated to helping young singers and American composers. In the summer of 2006 he delivered the keynote address at the annual convention of the National Association of Teachers of Singing; his subject was the delights of singing new American music.
Articles by Paul Sperry:
Richard Hundley's songs were the first songs by a living American composer that I fell in love with and the love affair never ended.