Biography

“…Soprano Alfreda Burke…singing displayed a voice flexible and brilliant in the upper register, dark yet colorful in the middle and lower registers.”

Alfreda Burke’s vocal artistry has been described as “voluptuous, creamy and luxuriant” (Chicago Tribune).  She has appeared in concert throughout North America and in Europe.  Ms. Burke made her Carnegie and Orchestra Hall debuts in Strauss’ Elektra with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra led by Daniel Barenboim.  Highlighted performances include the Chicago Symphony  at Ravinia under Erich Kunzel, Cincinnati Pops Symphony Orchestra/May Festival Chorus,Detroit Opera House/DSO/Rackham Symphony Choir under Suzanne Acton,Prague Philharmonic, Umbria Music Festival (Italy), TodiMusicFest, Miss World 2012 & 2014 (China, UK), Holders Season Gala (Barbados), Lancaster Festival, Grant Park Music Festival, Millennium Park Gala, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra 2003, Kennedy Center, Auditorium Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, Chorus Angelorum, Chicagoland Pops Orchestra, Siamsa na nGael 2013 and NATO Chicago Summit, among others.  Ms. Burke filmed 2010 Prague PBS special, Hallelujah Broadway (Mind the Gap Films, Dublin, Ireland) and recorded it on EMI/Manhattan Records label (Czech National Symphony Orchestra Studios).  She is honored to be a HistoryMaker and a permanent part of their collection at the Library of Congress.

 

Ms. Burke’s oratorio, opera, concert and musical theater engagements include the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts broadcast on WFMT-FM; Mozart Requiem, Mass in C Minor, Coronation Mass in C Major; Handel’s Messiah; Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Beethoven’s Mass in C; Poulenc Gloria; Mahler 2nd & 8th Symphonies; Strauss’ Elektra; Puccini’s Turandot (Liu); Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta; Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915; Menotti’s Amahl & the Night Visitors; Rutter Requiem; Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem; Boulez’s Le Visage Nuptial under baton of Pierre Boulez; Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess; Bernstein’s West Side Story; Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar (Mary Magdalene); Christianson & Anderson’s Too Hot to Handel; Kern’s Show Boat (Kennedy Center/National Tour, Auditorium Theatre with her son, Dean),directed by Harold Prince.  A cycle of 3 Paul Laurence Dunbar Songs was written for Ms. Burke by Dr. Edward Hart, College of Charleston (SC, 2015).  She was featured in CSO’s Symphony Center Inaugural Festival and Radiothon.

 

Ms. Burke’s work in recordings, music video, television, radio, film and commercials includes:  soprano vocalist in Dawa movies (LA) soundtrack featuring Ramsey Lewis, James Mack and members of the CSO; Bobby Lewis release; Celine Dion and R. Kelly’s I’m Your Angel; numerous classical/crossover, sacred/secular profiles and broadcasts; The Visit, The Visitors, Unconditional Love, U.S. Marshals.  Ms. Burke has made guest soloist appearances on the WTTW/Odyssey broadcast of 30 Good Minutes.  She has performed the National Anthem for the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Fire.

 

Alfreda Burke received rave reviews for a Community Concerts national tour with Tenor Rodrick Dixon. “Dixon and Burke sang with such deep and knowing pathos that the audience was kept in rapt silence until the end of the set.  …Then Burke keened the achingly beautiful ‘Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child’…   Ms. Burke’s discography includes solo debut CD, From the Heart (2002);Hallelujah Broadway (2010, EMI/Manhattan Records).  She recorded, performed the Chicago Olympic 2016 Bid Anthem, “I Will Stand (Millennium Park Gala, 2008) and served on the Arts & Culture Advisory Council.Recent engagements and  airings include national/ international PBS Special Hallelujah Broadway; Young Musicians Choral Orchestra Artist Residency (CA); WSU Music & Medicine Symposium; Detroit Opera House/DSO/Rackham Symphony Choir (13 yrs.) & Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre, Too Hot to Handel (10 yrs.); NATO Chicago Summit; Miss World (China, UK) gala and judge; Variety Children’s Telethon; Auditorium Theatre & DiBurke, Inc. co-produced new duo show, Songs of a Dream national tour and CD release (2015); Brazeal Dennard Chorale; Tuba Bach Festival; Office for Immigrant Affairs & City Lights Orchestra, Francis Cardinal George; Corrales Cultural Arts Council (New Mexico); American Opera Society, Governor State University, Auditorium Theatre 125 Living the History and moreMs. Burke received Master and Bachelor of Music degrees from Roosevelt University; served as Alumna Ambassador for RU’s 60th Anniversary; serves on the RU CCPA Advisory Board; and on the Auditorium Theatre 125th Anniversary Season Committee.

Also visit Soprano Alfreda Burke at  www.theHistoryMakers.com, www.songsofadream.com, YouTube and  http://www.facebook.com/people/Alfreda-Burke/100001464074161

 

 

 Ms. Burke’s work in Education includes:  Wheaton College Conservatory, Guest Lecturer in Voice  (1998-2009); Chicago State University, Voice Faculty  (2007-2008); Carl Sandburg HS, Individual Voice Teacher  (2004-2007); Chicago Symphony Orchestra Musicians Residency/South Shore Cultural Center, Voice Instructor (1996-1998); Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Experimental Laboratory Schools (K-8), Evanston-Skokie Dist. 65, General Music & Choral Teacher  (1985-1996).  Young Musicians  Choral Orchestra (YMCO) Artist Residency, CA (Summer 2009-Present); Too Hot to Handel Education Outreach, Detroit Opera House (2002-Present) and Auditorium Theatre (2006-Present); Wright State University Music & Medicine Symposium (2009-Present) Performer, Presenter, Clinician; The HistoryMakers Back to School (2013); Masterclasses throughout the US (presently).

 

Interesting Fact:  The talent and encouragement of Alfreda Burke’s beloved parents ignited her passion for music.  A Pastor’s Kid, Ms. Burke is the Goddaughter of Roberta Martin, internationally acclaimed Gospel singer, pianist, composer, arranger and publisher.