Winner of two Walter W. Naumburg Awards – as chamber musician and solo recitalist – soprano Lucy Shelton continues to enjoy an international career bringing her dramatic vocalism and brilliant interpretive skills to repertoire of all periods. An esteemed exponent of 20th- and 21st-century repertory, she has worked closely with today’s composers and premiered over 100 works. Notable among these are song cycles by Elliott Carter, Oliver Knussen, Louis Karchin, and James Yannatos; chamber works by Carter, Joseph Schwantner, Mario Davidovsky, Stephen Albert, Lewis Spratlan, Charles Wuorinen, Gabriella Lena Frank, Bruce Adolphe, Alexander Goehr, Poul Ruders, Anne Le Baron, and Thomas Flaherty; orchestra works by Knussen, Albert, Schwantner, David Del Tredici, Gerard Grisey, Ezra Laderman, Sally Beamish, Virko Baley, and Ned Rorem; and an opera by Robert Zuidam. In recent seasons, Shelton has premiered works written for her by Shulamit Ran, Dan Visconti, Frank Stemper, Kathleen Ginther, Tamar Muskal, and Fang Man.
An avid chamber musician, she has been a guest artist with ensembles such as the Emerson, Brentano, Enso, Mendelssohn, Chiara, and Guarneri string quartets; the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, 21st Century Consort, Speculum Musicae, Da Capo Chamber Players, Sospeso, New York New Music Ensemble, Boston Musica Viva, Da Camera of Houston, eighth blackbird, Dolce Suono Ensemble, the Ensemble Moderne, Nash Ensemble, Klangform Wien, Schoenberg-Asko, and Ensemble Intercontemporain. Shelton has participated in numerous festivals, including those of Aspen, Santa Fe, Ojai, Tanglewood, Chamber Music Northwest, BBC Proms, Aldeburgh, Caen, Kuhmo, Togo, and Salzburg.
Shelton has appeared with major orchestras worldwide, including Amsterdam, Boston, Chicago, Cologne, Denver, Edinburgh, Helsinki, London, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Minnesota, Munich, New York, Paris, St. Louis, Stockholm, Sydney, and Tokyo under leading conductors such as Marin Alsop, Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Reinberg De Leeuw, Charles Dutoit, Alan Gilbert, Oliver Knussen, Kent Nagano, Simon Rattle, Helmuth Rilling, Mstislav Rostropovich, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Leonard Slatkin, and Robert Spano.
Highlights of recent seasons Shelton’s 2010 Grammy nomination (with the Enso Quartet) for the Naxos release of Ginastera’s string quartets, her Zankel Hall debut with the Met Chamber Orchestra and James Levine in Carter’s A Mirror On Which To Dwell, multiple performances of a staged Pierre Lunaire with eighth blackbird, and, in celebration of the work’s centenary, concert versions with 10 different ensembles worldwide. Shelton also coordinated two intense eight-day residencies at the University of Oregon and Southern Illinois University, where she coached composers and singers in “The Art of Unaccompanied Song.”
Over the years Shelton has participated in various composers’ birthday and memorial celebrations, including Elliott Carter’s 100th in Turin and New York; Oliver Knussen’s 50th in London; Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’s 70th in Turin; James Primrosch’s 50th in Philadelphia; both George Perle’s and Milton Babbitt’s 90th in Princeton and New York, followed in a few years by their memorials. In May 2013 Shelton sang Elliott Carter’s What Are Years for his memorial tribute concert held at Juilliard.
Shelton’s extensive discography is on the Deutsche Grammophon, Koch International, Nonesuch, NMC, Bridge, Albany, and Innova labels and includes works by Carter, Knussen, Stravinsky, Messiaen, Wuorinen, Del Tredici, Adolphe, Rands, Ginastera, Kim, Le Baron, Baley, Ung, and Schwantner.
A native of California, Shelton’s primary mentor was mezzo-soprano Jan De Gaetani. Ms. Shelton has taught at the Third Street Settlement School in Manhattan, Eastman School, New England Conservatory, Cleveland Institute, and the Britten-Pears School. She joined the resident artist faculty of the Tanglewood Music Center in 1996, and in the fall of 2007 she was appointed to the Manhattan School of Music’s contemporary performance faculty. Shelton teaches privately in her New York City studio.
In recognition of her contribution to the field of contemporary music, Shelton has received honorary doctorate degrees from both Pomona College (2003) and the Boston Conservatory (2013).