"Singer after singer had a thrilling basic instrument, but that was all. Missing almost entirely was the artistry so vital to meaningful performance."
These were the words of Winifred Cecil, the noted singer and teacher and founder of JOY IN SINGING, about the plight of many young singers. She was resolved to pass on to them the refinements of the art of song she learned from her mentors, Marcella Sembrich and Elena Gerhardt. The opportunity came in 1952 when, after one of her recitals, she was invited by Town Hall to preside over a series of master classes in which she would help gifted singers with interpretation, stage deportment and communication. For it is in these, she believed, that lies the "joy in singing." This was the embryo.
Six years later, in 1958, JOY IN SINGING was born as an award program, and as a publicly supported organization. The winners of the annual awards received a prize recital, at first given in Town Hall. Then in 1969, Ms. Cecil was invited by the Library and Museum of the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center to move the master classes to that location, and the Award Recitals to Alice Tully Hall. Support for JOY IN SINGING was swift in coming; among the first to back the budding organization was Arturo Toscanini, who established a scholarship with his contribution.
Upon Winifred Cecil's death in 1984, so many singers appealed to the organization to keep the unique idea of Joy In Singing alive that the Board of Directors decided to continue the program. In 1986, American tenor Paul Sperry was invited to become Music Director. "Working with the talented young singers who participate in the classes is one of the highlights of my year. Within the master class format, I try to focus on keeping alive the ideals of the three artists who most influenced my own musical development: Pierre Bernac, Jennie Tourel and Paul Ulanowsky.” During Mr. Sperry's tenure, Joy In Singing produced an annual Composers' Concert in partnership with the New York City Performing Arts Library, generously underwritten by the Edward T. Cone foundation. This concert was designed to feature the work of two American composers with significant contribution to the art song repertoire. The programming in this series showcased the large body of contemporary work residing in the Performing Arts Library collection devoted to the continuation of the art song form in American musical culture.