Sanford Sylvan, baritone, displays a remarkable range of vocal expression and communicative power. On the concert stage and in recordings, his radiantly pure, lyric tone, clarity of diction, and profound understanding of both words and music speak directly and intimately to his audience. Deeply committed to the art of the vocal recital, Mr. Sylvan and his long-time collaborator, pianist David Breitman, have performed extensively throughout the United States and Europe, in major venues in London, New York, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. Their recitals and recordings have earned exceptional praise from critics and audiences, including three Grammy Award nominations for Best Classical Vocal Performance.
In the realm of opera, Mr. Sylvan is an acclaimed Mozartean. His portrayals of Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro and Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte have been seen internationally, including on PBS's "Great Performances." He has been much acclaimed for the role of Leporello in Don Giovanni, which he sang for his Glyndebourne Festival debut and with the New York City Opera, where he has since become a regular performer in such operas as The Magic Flute, Ariodante, The Rape of Lucretia, and most recently, Handel's Semele. Sanford Sylvan is closely associated with the productions of renowned directors: Peter Sellars in works of John Adams, Mozart, and Stravinsky; Robert Wilson in Virgil Thomson's Four Saints in Three Acts as well as Sir Peter Hall and Andrei Serban. He has developed longstanding relationships with major composers who have written for him: John Adams's Nixon In China (Chou En-Lai), the title role of The Death of Klinghoffer and the song cycle, The Wound Dresser; and numerous works of John Harbison. He was in the US premiere of The Lighthouse by Peter Maxwell Davies, the world premiere of Philip Glass's The Juniper Tree, and sang Sir Michael Tippett's The Ice Break at the BBC Proms, recorded for Virgin Classics. In the summer of 2005, he made an acclaimed Glimmerglass Opera debut as Don Alfonso in Mozart’s Così fan tutte.
Mr. Sylvan has performed with many of the leading orchestras of the world including the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke's, Royal Concertgebouworkest, the London Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Symphony, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Tonhalle Orchestra of Zurich, Academy of Ancient Music, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and the NHK (Japanese Broadcasting Corporation) Symphony. He has collaborated with such conductors as Simon Rattle, James Levine, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Herbert Blomstedt, Christopher Hogwood, Ken Nagano, Helmuth Rilling, Bruno Weil, Roger Norrington, and Edo De Waart, among many others. The Los Angeles Philharmonic commissioned Steven Stucky's American Muse for him; Esa Pekka Salonen conducted the premiere.
Sanford Sylvan's recordings are known throughout the world and appear on the Nonesuch, Decca, Harmonia Mundi, Musicmasters, Bridge, Koch, Virgin Classics, New World, BMOP/sound, and CRI labels. A Grammy and Emmy Award winner for his role in John Adams's Nixon in China, he has received Grammy nominations for his recording with David Breitman, L’Horizon Chimerique which features chansons of Gabriel Faure; Beloved That Pilgrimage, a program of American songs with music by Barber, Copland, and Chanler; for John Adams's The Wound Dresser; and in 2009 for Charles Fussell's Wilde with Gil Rose and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. A recording of Bach with the Sarasa Ensemble was released in 2006. He can be seen in numerous productions on DVD including John Adams's Nixon in China and Klinghoffer and Peter Sellars's productions of Così fan tutte and Nozze di Figaro.
Mr. Sylvan is currently on the vocal faculty of McGill University in Montreal.