The American soprano, Sylvia McNair, graduated from Indiana University.
Sylvia McNair is a regular guest artist with the major opera houses and symphony orchestras of Europe and North America and she performs frquently also as recitalist. She has appeared with the Chicago Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Cleveland Orchestra and has worked many times with the Atlanta Symphony conducted by Robert Shaw, Boston Symphony Orchestra with Seiji Ozawa, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin and New York Philharmonic Orchestra with Kurt Masur. In Europe, she has performed and recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, London Philharmonic Orchestra with Kurt Masur, English Baroque Soloists with John Eliot Gardiner, English Concert with Trevor Pinnock, Chamber Orchestra of Europe with Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Claudio Abbado, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra with André Previn and Claudio Abbado, and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra with Jeffrey Tate, Bernard Haitink, Claudio Abbado and James Levine.
In the operatic field Sylvia McNair made, in 1989, a triumphant debut at the Glyndebourne Festival as Anne Trulove (The Rake's Progress) followed by an equally sensational debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as Ilia in Mozat's Idomeneo. It was again as Ilia that she made her Salzburg debut in 1990 with Seiji Ozawa and Paris Opera debut with Chung. She has since sung Corinna (Il Viaggio a Reims) and Susanna at Covent Garden and Anne Trulove, Susanna, and Poppea at the Salzburg Festival with, respectively, Sylvain Cambreling, Bernard Haitink and Nikolaus Harnoncourt. In 1992 she made her debuts with the San Francisco Opera as Tytania (A Midsummer Night's Dream) and at the Metropolitan Opera, New York as Marzelline. She has subsequently sung Pamina and Tytania at the Met. She has also appeared with the opera companies of Berlin, Santa Fe and St. Louis.
As the first winner of the Marion Anderson Award in 1990 Sylvia McNair has chosen to devote more time to recitals and since 1992 she has performed recitals in Edinburgh, Lisbon, Brussels, London, Paris and at the Musikverein in Vienna, in Cleveland, St Louis, San Francisco, Los Angeles and in New York both at Carnegie Hall and at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall.
Sylvia McNair has now embarked on a major recording career. She has recently recorded Poppea with John Eliot Gardiner and Susanna with Claudio Abbado for DG and Corinna (Viaggio a Reims) with Claudio Abbado for Sony. For Philips Classics with whom she has signed an extensive contract, she has recorded Mozart's Requiem, George Frideric Handel's Messiah and Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem with Neville Marriner; Gustav Mahler's 2nd and 4th Symphonies with Bernard Haitink; L.v. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Kurt Masur; Tytania with Sir Colin Davis; Anne Trulove with Seiji Ozawa; she has made a series of 'Portrait' records, including G.F. Handel and Mozart arias with John Eliot Gardiner; a Mozart album with Neville Marriner; an album of French Melodies accompanied by Roger Vignoles; Jerome Kern and Harold Arlen albums with Previn; and Purcell songs with Christopher Hogwood, for which she received a Grammy Award.