Two-time Grammy Award winner and regional Emmy Award winner, Sylvia McNair lays claim to a three-decade, stellar career in the musical realms of opera, oratorio, cabaret and musical theater. Her journey has taken her from the Metropolitan Opera to the Salzburg Festival, from the New York Philharmonic to the Rainbow Room, from the Ravinia Festival to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, from the pages of The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal to the London Times and the cover of Cabaret Scenes. Having appeared as a soloist multiple times with nearly every major opera company and symphony orchestra in the world, this songbird has flown the classical coop. She’s retracing her star route now with Gershwin, Porter, Bernstein and Sondheim.
In 2016, Sylvia’s newest recording: SUBJECT TO CHANGE!, a cabaret show about her life in music, recorded “live” at the Aspen Festival, will be released. This release follows an indelible audio trail with over 70 recordings ranging from Mozart arias with Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy of St.-Martin-in-the-Fields to the music of Jerome Kern and Harold Arlen with pianist Andre Previn. In 2011, Sylvia released a Christmas CD, PEACE, which sold out its first run in a matter of weeks. In 2012, ROMANCE, a disc of Latin American jazz standards was released to a rave review from Fanfare Magazine’s Lynn Rene Bayley: “… here the record is, and it’s fabulous. In fact, it’s the biggest surprise of its kind I’ve encountered since Diana Ross’s live album of Billie Holiday standards.”
Numerous Pops appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony and others continue the reincarnation of her musical gifts. A review of her performance with Marvin Hamlisch and the Milwaukee Symphony tells the tale: “… she is that rare opera type who really gets the popular song. She reined in the vibrato and played to the microphone perfectly. Her matchless enunciation not only delivered the words and their sentiments, but also helped to etch the rhythms. Her wonderfully pure Summertime, purged of all diva carrying-on, is among the best I’ve ever heard.” Third Coast Digest
It would be difficult to top Sylvia’s invitations to sing the Bach B-minor Mass with the Vienna Philharmonic for Pope John Paul II at The Vatican (2000) and a recital for the U.S. Supreme Court by special request of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (1998). But her engagements of the past decade are what her dreams are made of: ten seasons at the Ravinia Festival performing with Broadway legends John Raitt, George Hearn and Brian Stokes Mitchell, a three-season national tour of Gershwin’s ‘Here To Stay’ with pianist Kevin Cole and many of the country’s top orchestras, musical theater productions of ‘Most Happy Fella’ (Ravinia 2007), ‘Camelot’ (Ravinia 2009), ‘A Little Night Music’ (Indiana Repertory Theater 2013) and performances of her one-woman show ‘Subject To Change!’ from New York to San Diego and Chicago to Palm Beach. After her opening at the famed Oak Room of the Algonquin, critic Rex Reed swooned, “I could get used to this kind of ecstasy.”
A proud Buckeye from Mansfield, Ohio, Sylvia earned a Masters degree with Distinction from the Indiana University School of Music where she now serves on the faculty, she received honorary doctorates from Westminster College (1997) and Indiana University (1998), the Ohio Governor’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Arts and Entertainment (1999), the Indiana Governor’s Arts Award (2011).