John Holiday Wins the Marian Anderson Vocal Award

By Francisco Salazar

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Washington National Opera have announced that countertenor John Holiday is the 2017 winner of the Marian Anderson Vocal Award.

The Award, which honors trailblazing contralto Marian Anderson’s personal and humanitarian achievements, celebrates excellence in performance by recognizing a young American singer who has achieved initial professional success in the vocal arts and who exhibits promise for a significant career.

The countertenor will receive a $10,000 cash prize and will have a chance to perform in a recital on Feb. 15, 2018 in the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. Holiday will also establish an educational residency at the opera workshop program of Washington’s Duke Ellington School of the Arts.

On having received the award Holiday said, “Having known about this award for many years, it is both an honor and very humbling to join the ranks of past winners, some of whom I am lucky enough to call friends and others whom I have long admired. Joining this extraordinary roster of winners is one of the most amazing achievements of my life.”

He continued, “as an African American in the world of opera, I cannot begin to express how much receiving this award means to me. Marian Anderson stepped through the door so that so many of us could follow her, and I am forever grateful.”

Holiday is one of opera’s rising stars as he has made high-profile debuts as the Sorceress in Barrie Kosky’s acclaimed production of Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas” at LA Opera, Caesar in Tazewell Thompson’s new production of Vivaldi’s “Cato in Utica” at The Glimmerglass Festival, and the title role in Handel’s “Giulio Cesare” for Wolf Trap Opera.

He also made his Carnegie Hall debut as soloist in Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms” with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under Robert Spano. He was also featured in Philip Glass’s “Galileo Galilei” at Cincinnati Opera, having first performed the work at Portland Opera for his debut. This season Holiday returns to the Glimmerglass Festival to make his debut in the title role in “Xerxes” and he will make his debut with Opera Philadelphia in the world-premiere of Daniel Roumain’s “We Shall Not Be Moved.”

Previous winners of the Marian Anderson Vocal Award include Sylvia McNair, Denyce Graves,Patricia Racette, Michelle DeYoung, Nathan Gunn, Eric Owens, Lawrence Brownlee, Jamie Barton, and, most recently, soprano Janai Brugger.