June 7,2000

Singer François 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 York’s 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 Orchestra.

Clemmons has performed the role of Sportin’ Life from George Gershwin’s "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.