American lyric tenor Paul Sperry is that rarity in today's musical world: a singer dedicated to preserving the song recital. Though his experience in opera extends from Monteverdi through Stockhausen, he continues to devote much of his time to the programming and performance of songs from every country and every period of music.
Born in Chicago, Mr. Sperry started piano lessons at age five, graduated from Harvard College and continued his studies at the Sorbonne in Paris. He worked extensively with such masters of art-song interpretation as Pierre Bernac, Jennie Tourel and Paul Ulanowsky and studied acting with Stella Adler. This combination of liberal arts education, supreme musicianship and dramatic flair contribute to what The New York Times called "one of today's leading song recitalists." Sperry's extraordinarily wide repertory includes songs, chamber works and oratorios in fifteen languages, and includes more than fifty works that have been written for him by many of today's leading composers both European and American--among them Beaser, Bolcom, Cipullo, Druckman, Hagen, Hundley, Larsen, Musto, Paulus, Rands, Talma, Henze, Stockhausen, and Maderna.
Among his recordings are four CDs of American songs for Albany Records, Bernard Rands' "Canti del Sole" which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1984 for CRI, and the complete songs of Ives which he recorded with three other singers for Albany Records. He has recorded a CD released by Albany of four new song cycles by Tom Cipullo, Daron Hagen, Libby Larsen and 2004 Pulitzer Prize winner, Paul Moravec. Zephyr Records has issued with pianist Ian Hobson: Les chemins de l'amour, a CD of Poulenc songs; Schubert's "Winterreise;" Great Composers Love Folksongs Too; Byways of French Song, a 2CD box of lesser known French Mélodies. And Someday I'll Find You Said the Honeysuckle to the Bindweed, a CD of songs by Noël Coward and Flanders & Swann. Mr. Sperry has edited numerous collections of American songs for G. Schirmer, Peer-Southern, Carl Fischer and Dover Publications and his book American Encores was issued in 2002 by the Oxford University Press.
Today Mr. Sperry is widely appreciated for his master classes at the University of Illinois, the Eastman School of Music, the Peabody Institute, Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, the Cleveland Institute of Music, the University of Southern California, Harvard and Yale to name a few. Between 1984 and 2004 he taught 19th and 20th-century song repertory and performance at the Juilliard School, and he created there what may have been the country's first full-year course in American song. He also teaches courses in American song at the Manhattan School of Music in New York and various song courses at the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music including how to put together and prepare a song recital. He served on the faculty of the Aspen Music Festival and School from 1978- 2002, founded the Vocal Program at the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan, and served as its director from 1991 to 1997. In 1987 he became the Director of Joy In Singing, an organization dedicated to helping young singers, American composers and the art song. From 2004-6 he joined the faculty of the International Institute of Vocal Arts in Tel Aviv, Israel and Songfest from 2008-2010. In the summer of 2006 he delivered the keynote address at the annual convention of the National Association of Teachers of Singers--his subject was the delights of singing new American music. He lives in New York City.