Founder of Boys Choir of Harlem is next Open VISIONS Forum speaker


Image: Walter TurnballThe Open VISIONS Forum at Fairfield University, in cooperation with Fairfield's Carl and Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies, presents the Third annual Jacoby-Lunin Humanitarian lecture on Wednesday, Nov. 8, at 7:30 p.m., featuring Walter Turnbull, Ph.d., founder and director of the Boys Choir of Harlem. Dr. Turnbull will discuss "Music as a tool for life: Understanding the need to embrace human dignity." The event, which takes place in the University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts, will include several selections performed by members of the choir.

Twenty-six years ago, Dr. Turnbull dreamed of creating opportunities to better the lives of the children of Harlem. He has since built an innovative program which addresses the social, educational and emotional needs of urban children and helps them transform their lives through music.

Dr. Turnbull grew up in rural Mississippi where he was a pupil in a one-room schoolhouse. From there, he became an honors graduate of Tougaloo College (which has named a scholarship in his honor for Boys Choir of Harlem graduates), and earned both master's and doctoral degrees from the Manhattan School of Music. He has been honored by the states of New York and Mississippi, received several honorary degrees from prestigious United States' universities and is the recipient of numerous awards throughout the nation for his efforts in the arts and humanities.

A talented performing artist in his own right, Dr. Turnbull made his operatic debut with the Houston Grand Opera in Scott Joplin's "Treemonisha," (which he reprised on Broadway). He has performed in "Carmen" and "Turandot" with Opera South, created the role of Antonio in the world premiere of Roger Ames' opera "Amistad," performed "Carmina Burana" with the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre and has appeared as a tenor soloist with the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra. In addition to his role as Principal Conductor of the Boys Choir of Harlem, Dr. Turnbull gives recitals at Merkin Hall in New York City, conducts master classes for artistic and educational organizations and lectures frequently on education and the arts.

Dr. Turnbull's lecture is sponsored by the Frank Jacoby Foundation. In 1985, Frank Jacoby, a Jewish immigrant from Hungary, found his way to Bridgeport, Conn., where he became a successful businessman. Recognizing that people were treated unfairly due to their race, religion or creed, he founded the lecture series bearing his name to promote the cause of humanity.

The first lecture was in 1951; early speakers in the series were Eleanor Roosevelt, Ralph Bunch and Martin Luther King, Jr. Jacoby's son-in-law, Arthur Lunin, guided the lectureship until his death in 1999. Now known as the Jacoby-Lunin Lectureship, the endowed series is in its third year at Fairfield University. Last year's speaker was Morris Dees, civil right activist and founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala.

The Open VISIONS Forum, a program of Fairfield University's School of Continuing Education, is sponsored in part by Advest. Ticket prices vary for each lecture. Tickets for Dr. Turnbull's lecture are $15 and $12 for seniors. For tickets or information call the Quick Center box office at (203) 254-4010 or toll-free at 1-877-ARTS-396.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on October 4, 2000

Vol. 33, No. 54