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April 21, 2013

World famous singer Marilyn Horne right at home in Norman

NORMAN — Celebrated mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne has been a visiting professor at OU for more than a decade. She lets her opera friends know there is more to the university than championship football teams.

“I have learned a tremendous amount about Oklahoma by coming to OU,” Horne said. “There’s a wealth of culture here and when I mention the University to people outside the state, all they know about is football.”

Retired now from the performance stage, Marilyn Horne is widely recognized as being among the world’s finest opera singers. Her career achievements were recognized in 1992 when she received the National Medal of Arts.

“When I reveal that there’s a fabulous musical theater program at OU they look at me and say ‘You’re kidding?’” Horne said. “The voice department and orchestra are magnificent and the music school is just fabulous.”

The bright-eyed and ebullient mezzo soprano has been a visiting

professor here since 1998. Her association with the university came about through a friendship with then Democratic Oklahoma Senator David L. Boren and his wife Molly Shi Boren.

“We met many years ago in Guthrie,” Horne said. “Then I invited them to a concert I was doing in Washington, D.C., for the Public Broadcasting Service called ‘In Performance at the White House.’”

After Boren became OU’s president he asked Horne to perform at the opening ceremonies for the new Catlett Music Center in 1998.

“I sang a recital and the next day taught a master class,” she said. “And it was soon after that President Boren invited me to be a visiting professor.”

Horne likes teaching at OU and she works hard during those days here each year. Her visits are far from being ceremonial appearances. Evening master classes are free and open to the public but she also maintains a tight schedule with students during regular classroom hours.

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