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The Magic & The Music

Candlelight Concert Series at the Marilyn Horne Museum

Nestled at the edge of the Allegheny National Forest in the City of Bradford, is a fascinating museum honoring Marilyn Horne, a small-town girl who became an internationally acclaimed opera star.

Born to Bentz Horne and Berniece Hokanson Horne, both natives of Bradford, this legendary star once performed in concerts staged in Bradford’s town square. From this humble beginning, she became a main stay of the Metropolitan Opera and appeared in virtually every major opera company in the world.

The Marilyn Horne Museum and Exhibit Center, a 3,400 square foot Art Deco exhibition space, is located directly alongside Bradford’s town square where she once performed as a child. It is the only museum in the world of this size and quality, dedicated to a single opera star. Displays include audio guides, film, and 19 interactive exhibits, plus opera costumes and recital gowns.

Marilyn Horne has been called “probably the greatest singer in the world.” - Opera News, 1981. She specialized in roles requiring beauty of tone and the ability to execute difficult coloratura passages.

A mainstay of the Metropolitan Opera, Marilyn made her debut on stage at the Metropolitan Opera on March 3, 1970. At the age of 20, she appeared in the role of Hata in Smetana’s The Bartered Bride for the Los Angeles Guild Opera. In 1954, she sang the voice of Carmen Jones in Oscar Hammerstein’s re-creation of Georges Bizet’s Carmen. She sang professionally in the world’s great opera houses for over 40 years. Horne is one of the greatest mezzo-sopranos in opera history and is considered the best Rossini interpreter ever. Horne also sang contemporary music and traditional popular songs, appearing on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and singing Sing After Me and C is for Cookie on Sesame Street.

Marilyn was a recipient of the National Medal of Arts in 1992 and Kennedy Center Honors in 1995. During her career she won four Grammy Awards. Horne’s contributions to the opera world are many, including The Marilyn Horne Foundation created in support of young singers.

The Marilyn Horne Museum is someplace special.  When you walk into the museum, there will be music playing and a student ambassador will greet you and welcome you to the museum. The museum is an immersive musical and educational experience for all ages; it is not a stuffy, do-not-touch museum. It is a sensory experience, visually striking with exhibits which encourage touching and listening.

The floors are black and white marble, the entrance to the museum is a striking theater marque. Exhibitions of replica costumes from a few of Marilyn Horne’s signature performances are displayed along the hallway to the theater. Each of the intricate costumes has a rich history. The baroque style theater is a replica of one of her favorite opera houses. Once seated, visitors are treated to a film in which Marilyn Horne herself narrates the story of her rise to international acclaim. Leaving the theater, wander at your own pace exploring, listening, and interacting with the many displays.

Speaking with Matthew Hileman, Director/Curator of the museum, you catch his excitement and enthusiasm for the museum’s mission. “I’m fortunate to have worked for international entertainment companies, including most recently the Walt Disney Company. It’s my goal to bring a little world-class hospitality magic to our region.”

Magic will be happening this Christmas season at the Christmas Marketplace, the Candlelight Concert Series, and within the museum’s gift shop.

The Christmas Marketplace, with a Dickens theme, will take place Dec. 8th from 11am-4pm at the Museum. The American Caroling Company will be performing, holiday vendors will be on-hand, and gingerbread cookies and cider will be served. The vendors who are participating from throughout Pennsylvania and New York will be offering fine art, hand-crafted or creative items. Vendor items include pen & ink sketches, hand-dyed yarns, and a line of men’s gift items. Artisans on-hand will be spinning wool and practicing the ancient art of Pysanka - the Ukrainian art of egg decoration.  Along with the vendors, music, and customary Dickens characters, it is rumored Ebenezer Scrooge will be strolling the Marketplace.

Much attention has been lavished on the items offered for purchase at the Marilyn Horne Museum Gift. The shop is brimming with unique holiday gift items and collectibles including French toys, quilled cards, crib mobiles, a variety of educational toys and an exquisite set of jeweled ornaments. A gift of colorfully decorated toy shields and swords will fire many a child’s imagination.

The Candlelight Concert Series on Dec. 15th will feature Hanna H. Finson, a concert harpist performing traditional carols and more. The music will be performed by candlelight in a chapel fashioned of wood and glass. The doors open at 7pm with the performance beginning at 7:30pm. Reservations are not required, and all performances are free. The Harriet Wick Chapel, which seats 150, is located at 300 Campus Drive, Bradford, Pennsylvania.

Future performances will include the Ginastera String Quartet on Feb. 16th and a performance of the Great American Songbook on March 9th. To keep current on this series and other upcoming magical events, sign up for the museum’s newsletter at www.marilynhorne.org/concertseries.

To create your own memorable experience, a High Tea may be booked at Marilyn Horne Hall. For special occasions such as an engagement, anniversary or other signature event, an intimate fine dining experience can be held within the Baroque style theater at the Marilyn Horne Museum. To schedule a high tea or a catered candlelight dinner in the Baroque Theater, phone 814-362-7990

Open daily, the Marilyn Horne Museum is located at 2 Marilyn Horne Way, Bradford, PA. Admission is free. Museum hours are Monday-Saturday 9am-5pm, and Sunday 11am-4pm. Café hours are Monday-Saturday 7:30am-5pm, Sunday 11am-4pm. Seasonal and holiday hours may vary. For information e-mail info@marilynhorne.org.

Additional things to see and do in the Allegheny National Forest Region of Pennsylvania, including winter outdoor recreation, lodging, restaurants, and places to stay are available at www.visitANF.com.