Tony Arnold honored with storied Brandeis Creative Arts Award

The acclaimed vocalist received the award and delivered a boundary-pushing performance at the Rose Art Museum

Photo/Heratch Ekmekjian

Tony Arnold performs before receiving the Brandeis Creative Arts Award.

Before she was honored with the Brandeis Creative Arts Award, acclaimed vocalist Tony Arnold delivered a performance that took over the entire Rose Art Museum  even the catwalk.

Arnold surprised many who gathered in the Gerald S. and Sandra Fineberg Gallery when she started her performance while standing half way up the stairs leading to the museum’s first floor.

Inspired by the exhibitions on display at the Rose, including works by Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, Arnold performed two iconic pieces from the 1960’s, “Stripsody” by Cathy Berberian and “Sequenza III” by Luciano Berio, mirroring the qualities of pop art, and highlighting the strength, clarity and plasticity of her voice.

From there, the audience moved downstairs to the Lois Foster Wing, where Arnold launched into her performance of “Recitations” by Georges Aperghis from the catwalk high above. Her voice emanated over the exhibition of works by painter Lisa Yuskavage, enveloping both the paintings and the audience. Through the metal grate ceiling tiles, Arnold could be seen strolling the gallery catwalk. Following her performance, Brandeis Interim President Lisa Lynch presented Arnold with the Brandeis Creative Arts Award.

"As one of the most sought after performers in the world, Tony is a pioneer who expands boundaries like no other," Lynch said. "Tony, we congratulate and thank you."

The unique performance punctuated Arnold's groundbreaking performance style, one of many reasons she was named winner of the renewed Brandeis Creative Arts Award. Launched in 1956, the award has been presented to scores of the most distinguished artists, performers and writers of the 20th century, including Tennessee Williams, George Balanchine, Leonard Bernstein, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Arthur Miller. It was last awarded in 1994. The Brandeis Division of Creative Arts has revitalized the award to build on its storied past and underscore the university's continuing commitment to the arts. 

"It's an overwhelming honor, there's an opportunity here to engage in the process in a direct way. I don't get to do that often," Arnold said after receiving the award. "...The opportunity to engage and help students become the architect of their own process is rare and I am grateful and looking forward to it."

At the start of the ceremony, Dean of Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Eric Chasalow said Arnold represented the core goals of the arts at Brandeis, making her the ideal recipient of the revitalized Creative Arts Award. 

"This is a special moment for all of us who care about the arts, especially the arts here at Brandeis," Chasalow said.

The reimagined award includes a medal and a $20,000 cash prize as well as a yearlong residency at Brandeis, allowing the recipient to interact with students and faculty in classrooms and studios across campus.

Arnold’s residency will feature a series of events that will engage with three topics: identity, politics, and embodiment of voice, the last of which Arnold described as “the filtering of ideas through a corporeal kaleidoscope.” Arnold said one of her goals is to present a new multidisciplinary artwork created with Brandeis students on April 16, 2016 at the Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts.

Categories: Arts

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