Home » Marian Anderson honored as Philadelphia’s orchestra auditorium renamed for her

Marian Anderson honored as Philadelphia’s orchestra auditorium renamed for her

by The Grio

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s home is being renamed Marian Anderson Hall in honor of the pioneering Black American contralto, a rare case of an artist’s name replacing a corporation.

The orchestra’s auditorium in the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts was known as Verizon Hall from 1999 through 2023, as part of a $14.5 million contribution agreed to by Bell Atlantic Corp. before its name change in 2000 to Verizon Communications Inc.

Anderson, who died in 1993 at age 96, was born in Philadelphia and in 1955 became the first Black singer to appear at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. The renaming was announced Wednesday, a day after the 127th anniversary of her birth.

“Knowing Marion, she would be humble,” said her niece, Ginette DePriest, the wife of late conductor James DePriest. “She always used to say: ‘Don’t make any fuss about this,’ but I think that the fact that it’s her hometown that she adores — I think she would be obviously honored but mostly humbled by by this gesture.”

Richard Worley and wife Leslie Miller, who live in suburban Bryn Mawr, are underwriting the name change with a $25 million gift to the Philadelphia Orchestra and Kimmel Center, which united in 2021. Worley joined the orchestra’s board in 1997 and served as its president from 2009-20; Miller was on the Kimmel Center board from 1999-2008, serving as acting president.

“A tribute to Marian Anderson of this nature, we think it’s long overdue,” Miller said,. “She was an iconic artist and she fought discrimination at every turn with grace and grit and kept on going. She deserves this kind of recognition.”

Philadelphia orchestra CEO Matías Tarnopolsky made a presentation to the board in August 2022 to name the hall after Anderson.

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