The Marian Anderson Performance Program

The Marian Anderson (Solo) Performance Program (MUSC 0100)

The Department of Music supports a wide variety of performance traditions and encourages qualified students to apply for instruction in classical, jazz, and world music traditions. The Department offers a special program of instruction in performance. This program is funded by the Marian Anderson Endowment and the Bessie and Harry Bodek Memorial Scholarship fund.

The African-American contralto Marian Anderson (February 27, 1897 – April 8, 1993) was one of the iconic figures of the 20th- century American performance scene and a highly relevant one both for her native city, Philadelphia, and for Penn. The Penn Library hosts the Marian Anderson Music Study Center (since 1998 the core of the Music Library) as well as the Marian Anderson Collection, including an archive of her papers and a collection of photographs (see here). The Music Department organized a conference in 2018 to celebrate Anderson, including school visits.

Objectives of the program

  • To develop excellency in performance skills, at pre-professional level.
  • To synthesize elements of musicianship, as developed through individual private study of an instrument or voice, with elements of academic knowledge of music theory and history, also acquired in enrollment in Music Department courses.
  • To be able to profesionally present, orally, the above-mentioned synthesis.

Admission to the program

Admission to and continuance in this Program is determined on the basis of auditions and juries for the Committee for the Marian Anderson Program, a committee of the Department of Music formed by the Director of Performance, the Undergraduate Chair, and one other member. 

The program is open to declared music majors or minors. Successful completion of Music Theory and Musicianship I is a prerequisite for music majors who wish to audition for the program.

Music minors are normally expected to have successfully completed at least two courses toward the minor and to be currently enrolled in at least one additional music course in order to audition for the Marian Anderson Performance Program (for additional information regarding the music major or minor, please see here).

Students who have not yet declared a major or minor may audition if they have taken or are registered for qualifying courses in the Music Department (this indicates an intention to declare when required to do so).

All students seeking admission to the program must demonstrate in an audition that they have already attained an intermediate level of advancement and that they have the musical potential and requisite commitment for continued applied studies. Auditions are held at the beginning of the Fall Semester and may be arranged by contacting the Director of Performance (215-898-8698) or signing up in Dr. Michael Ketner's office, Room 227, in the Music Building. Audition times will be posted here.

Audition requirements

Auditions are scheduled in fifteen-minute blocks. Students should bring a completed information form to the audition (sent to them once they have been approved for an audition time). Two contrasting works should be prepared for the audition. The Faculty Committee may choose during the audition to hear full movements or request excerpts. Specific recommendations for appropriate audition repertory appear below. Soloists may request an accompanist when signing up for an audition time.

Ensemble requirement

All students who are registered for MUSC 0100 (Marian Anderson program) are required to participate in one of the performance activities sponsored by the Department of Music (Music 0070). Students may be directed to a specific ensemble by the Committee. Satisfactory completion of the program is contingent on satisfying the ensemble requirement and unsatisfactory participation (in terms of attendance, preparation, commitment) will be reflected in the student’s final grade.


Students are only allowed to register for Music 0100 after a successful audition. The course is a two-semester course beginning in the fall semester, which carries one course unit of credit after the completion of two consecutive semesters. Each semester requires a minimum of ten lessons. A list of approved instructors is available in the music department office. It is the responsibility of the student to contact the teacher, arrange the lesson times, and complete the appropriate paperwork in a timely fashion.

Other requirements and grading

  • Recital

All students are required to perform in at least one music department recital. These are scheduled through the Director of Performance. Students should apply well in advance to perform in a recital and must have the approval of their private instructor. Students are also encouraged to perform in the College Houses, in the Penn Libraries, and at schools in the University City community.

  • Jury and Grading

Students are required to present a final jury near the end of the spring semester for the Faculty Committee. For solo performers, the grade for the year will be determined by the jury, in consultation with the instructor and director of the performance group in which the student participated. For the final jury, students should prepare three works from different periods that demonstrate a variety of skills and illustrate their musical development over the course of the year. Vocalists must perform in three languages. This will be paired with an oral presentation, for which students will consult in advance with the Committee.

Students must have an accompanist for all works that require one. A list of accompanists is available in the Music Department office.

Criteria for grading include: preparedness of one's part; willingness to rehearse and positive attitude to learning; and attendance at coachings. Please note that three unexcused missed coachings will result in automatic failure. Absences due to sickness will be excused only with a doctor's note.

  • Masterclasses

Students are required to attend and participate in 3-4 master classes on performance given by guest artists throughout the year.

  • Library Visit

Finally, students will be asked to become familiar with Marian Anderson through one two-hour visit to the Marian Anderson archives organized jointly by the Department (Undergraduate Chair) and the Library (Head of the Music Library).

After the first year

Any student returning for a second year (or third or fourth) will no longer need to audition to get into the program assuming their juries are of a high quality. In the second year and beyond, students will continue to receive lessons and will presumably have an ensemble experience. They will meet with the Director of Performance and the Undergrad Chair at the beginning of the year to plan out a capstone project that is performance and academically based, while being more individualized.

This option gives students an opportunity to have a voice in determining what types of solo performances they will do (if they want to do something a little different than the “usual” solo recital, they can have that option, assuming whatever they choose is approved by the Dir. of Performance and the Undergraduate Chair). Students can explore all kinds of different possibilities that can also give them experience in community outreach, leadership, recording, planning alternate venues, or anything else that they may come up with. In addition, this option allows for flexibility for students who may not be performers of western classical music traditions.

Procedure for payment

Normally, students admitted to Music 10 for solo performance will be funded for ten lessons per semester at $75 (a total of $750 per semester). If the student's instructor of choice charges a higher fee, or if the student takes more than ten lessons per semester, the student is responsible for the additional cost. The instructor must complete and return a set of necessary forms directly to our business administrator in order to be paid for lessons.

Audition Recommendations

While there are no set requirements for auditions, students may find the following suggestions helpful in deciding what works they wish to play at the audition if they are trained in Western Art Music. The works chosen should display the range of the student’s technical, musical, and stylistic abilities; demonstrate clearly the student’s level of accomplishment; and display versatility in styles and techniques. Students may also be asked to sight read in the audition. Singers must sing in a foreign language.

  • Piano: a prelude and fugue from the Well-Tempered Clavier or a three-part invention by Bach, and one or more movements from a Mozart or Beethoven sonata (first movement if only a single movement).
  • Strings: the principal movement from a major sonata or concerto and contrasting movements from Bach unaccompanied suites or similar works.
  • Winds: etudes of at least intermediate difficulty and one or more movements from a major sonata or concerto (orchestral excerpts are not appropriate for Music 10 auditions).
  • Organ: a prelude and fugue by Bach, one or more movements of a sonata, concerto, or other major organ work.
  • Voice: an art song in a foreign language and an operatic or oratorio excerpt in a second language.