July 20, 2000
Clemmons to Present "Melodies of Life and Love" at Middlebury
College Center for the Arts on July 26
MIDDLEBURY, Vt.François Clemmons, Middlebury College Twilight
Artist in Residence and director of the College choir, will perform "Melodies
of Life and Love" (in French and Italian) on Wednesday, July 26, at
7:30 p.m. in the Concert Hall at the Center for the Arts on Route 30. The
performance, which is sponsored by the Middlebury College French and Italian
Schools, is free and open to the public.
Clemmons talents as a singer and a
musicianhe is the founder and leader of the Harlem Spiritual Ensembleenrich
the experience that he brings to his many roles at the College. He taught
a January-term course, "The History of the American Negro Spiritual
and Its Influence on Western Civilization." Clemmons also lectures
in history classes, serves as an advisor to students, performs at campus
and town events, and directs the Middlebury College Choir. He was awarded
an honorary doctor of arts degree from Middlebury College in 1996.
Clemmons big break as a singer came in 1968 when he won the regional
auditions in Pittsburgh for New Yorks Metropolitan Opera. This achievement
allowed him to go on to the next level of competition in Cleveland, Ohio,
where he won a position in the Metropolitan Opera Studio. He sang with the
studio for seven seasons, performing more than 70 roles with various other
companies across the country, from the New York City Opera to the Cincinnati
Opera. In addition, he has sung with numerous orchestras, including the
Cleveland Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and the Philadelphia
Clemmons has performed the role of Sportin Life from George Gershwins
"Porgy and Bess" more than 100 times. His recording of the role
on London Records with the Cleveland Orchestra won a Grammy Award in 1973.
A versatile entertainer, Clemmons created and performed the role of the
friendly police officer, Officer Clemmons, on the Emmy and Peabody
Award-winning television program "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood"
for 25 years. The current generation of young children is now enjoying him
on reruns of the show.