Guest sopranos Elisabeth Stevens and Diane L. White-Clayton perform a recital of music by African American composers as part of the Penn State African American Music Festival. They are assisted by Yo Jung Han, piano.
The African American Music Festival, coordinated by faculty member Anthony Leach, includes concerts by Penn State students, faculty members, and guest artists. All events from Thursday, January 30 - Saturday, February 1 are open to the public. Funding is provided from the University Park Allocation Committee and the Penn State School of Music.
Elisabeth Stevens, soprano
- On Consciousness Streams ♦ Jacqueline Hairston
- Cassandra's Lullaby ♦ Mark Fax
- Dormi Jesu ♦ arranged by Jacqueline Hairston
- Good Night ♦ Adolphus Hailstork
- Three Songs ♦ Jay Fluellen
- Deep River ♦ arranged by Hall Johnson
- Honor, Honor ♦ arranged by Hall Johnson
Diane L. White-Clayton, soprano
- Sable is My Throat ♦ Diane L. White-Clayton
- Jacob's Ladder ♦ arranged by DLWC
- Ground Zero ♦ DLWC (poetry by Earlene White)
- The Birth of a Promise ♦ DLWC
- Wondering ♦ DLWC
- Medley of Spirituals ♦ arranged by DLWC
Dramatic soprano Elisabeth Stevens delivers impressive performances that have been featured in Philadelphia on CBS news, NBC10, and New York’s WQXR. She has been hailed at home and abroad for her elegant musicianship, majestic presence, and spectacular voice. In 2009, she claimed the top prize at the Concorso Internazionale Magda Olivero, the Concorso Internazionale per Giovani Cantanti Lirici Riccardo Zandonai, and the Concorso Internazionale “Alfredo Giacomotti” where she also won the audience prize. She also placed second in the Concorso Lirico Giovanni Martinelli-Aureliano Pertile. In 2008, she won third place in the China International Voice Competition in Ningbo, China and, in 2007, she won second place as well as the audience prize in the Concorso Internazionale di Canto Lirico Rocca delle Macíe in Chianti, Italy.
Stevens’ operatic repertoire includes the title roles in Aida, Ariadne auf Naxos, Suor Angelica, as well as the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro, and the Witch in Hansel and Gretel. She excels in concert repertoire, and has performed the world premieres of four new works for soprano on texts by Sonia Sanchez with the Network for New Music Ensemble. She has also been the soprano soloist in major concert works, including Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Haydn’s Mass in Time of War, Handel’s Messiah, and Mendelssohn’s Elijah. Her powerful voice has garnered invitations to sing at the inaugural celebration of Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, and at the Italian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
A native of Washington D.C., Diane L. White-Clayton was performing by age four and directing choirs by age nine; she was arranging and composing by eleven. She holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. in composition from the University of California at Santa Barbara. She graduated with honors from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in music with emphases in composition, voice, and piano. Prior to graduate studies, Dr. White-Clayton was awarded the coveted Rotary Scholarship for a year's study as an Ambassador of Goodwill to France. As a Rotary Scholar, she studied classical piano at the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris and performed solo gospel concerts throughout Europe.
Affectionately known as "Dr. Dee", Diane travels extensively as a vocalist, pianist, composer, conductor, workshop clinician, and speaker. She has held numerous positions at universities, colleges, and churches across the country, including the Washington Performing Arts Society, Appalachian State University, Westmont College, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Grinnell College, and New Christ Memorial Church under the legendary Pastor Andraé Crouch. She is currently Director of Choral Music at the renowned Faithful Central Bible Church in Los Angeles, California under the leadership of Pastor Kenneth C. Ulmer where she founded the acclaimed Sacred Praise Chorale.
As a composer, Dr. Dee is most known for her choral anthems and has won much acclaim with her tremendous stylistic diversity, ranging from atonal classical pieces to contemporary gospel. A classically trained pianist, she weds her virtuosic, mellow, gospel style with her soprano voice, stretching in a three-and-a-half octave range. Her performances captivate audiences, transporting listeners into glorious worship with her unique blend classical and gospel.
Diane is married to the love of her life, former recording and touring R&B percussionist, Joe Louis Clayton of Los Angeles.