Horne archives to be housed in downtown museum


Pitt-Bradford is planning to house a portion of the archives of Bradford's most famous daughter, Marilyn Horne, at its downtown location. 

The world-famous opera star has made a commitment to the university to donate her personal archives. Her foundation, which ceased operations in 2010, has already turned over that portion or Horne's archives to the university.

Dr.Livingston Alexander, president of Pitt-Bradford, and the Pitt-Bradford community envision a rotating exhibit of artifacts that would hold public interest, such as musical compositions, costumes, posters, jewelry and items from Horne's art collection, along with multi-media interactive displays.

The museum would be housed on the ground floor of the university-owned Seneca Building, appropriately located on Marilyn Horne Way in downtown Bradford.

Horne herself will give a brief talk describing the contents of her archives at Pitt-Bradford's 50th Anniversary Gala to be held on Oct. 4, beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the Frame-Westerberg Commons. Proceeds from the fundraiser will support the creation of a downtown museum.

When Marilyn Horne delivers her archives to the university, they will be stored at the University of Pittsburgh Archives Services Center in Pittsburgh, which is also home to the archives of former Pennsylvania governor and U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh. 

The center will also help with the processing, digitizing and managing the collection. 

Although several other institutions, including the Library of Congress, had indicated interest in the archives, Horne, chose Pitt-Bradford as the recipient.

"As a native of Bradford, Marilyn has a soft spot in her heart for her hometown and the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford," Alexander said. "When she indicated her interest in donating her archive collection to Pitt-Bradford and the University of Pittsburgh, we enthusiastically embraced the idea." 

The Horne Foundation was supportive of the university for many years, presenting two recitals each year in the Bromeley Family Theater. In addition to recitals, the young singers met with vocal students from the region as part of a residency, the last of which was held in January. 

Horne herself has supported the university by serving as honorary chairwoman for the Blaisdell Fine Arts Challenge, which raised $4.5 million toward the construction of Pitt-Bradford's fine arts building, Blaisdell Hall. 

In 2000, Pitt-Bradford honored Horne with its Presidential Medal of Distinction, and in 2004, she became the first person to receive an honorary degree from the University of Pittsburgh at a regional campus. 

Horne was born in 1934 in Bradford. Her father, Bentz Horne, encouraged his daughter to pursue her musical dreams. She moved with her family to Long Beach, Calif., when she was 11, and made her debut when she was 20 at the Los Angeles Guild Opera.Following her father's death in 1956, she traveled Europe, performing in many productions and receiving rave reviews.   

She sang professionally for more than 40 years, becoming not only a star of the opera world, but also an ambassador to pop culture through appearances on "The Odd Couple," "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson," "Carol Burnett and Friends" and "Sesame Street." 

In 1994, she formed the Marilyn Horne Foundation to nurture and champion not only young opera singers, but also the art of vocal recital. The foundation sponsored recitals for young singers at several locations, including Carnegie Hall and Pitt-Bradford, before becoming part of the Marilyn Horne legacy at Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute. 

The Oct. 4 gala will feature two brief recitals featuring soprano Stephanie Welge of Ellicottville, N.Y., and bass Deandre Simmons. In addition to the recitals, patrons will be treated to cocktails, dinner and a dessert reception and will have the chance to bid on a collection of exquisite items at a silent auction. Tickets are $125. For more information or for tickets, contact the Office of Institutional Advancement at (814)362-5091.