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Kimmel Center's newly-named Marian Anderson Hall is everlasting tribute for musical icon

Newly-named Marian Anderson Hall at the Kimmel Center is everlasting tribute for musical icon
Newly-named Marian Anderson Hall at the Kimmel Center is everlasting tribute for musical icon 02:31

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- From here on out, the Philadelphia Orchestra will perform at a concert hall that pays tribute to Civil Rights trailblazer and musical icon Marian Anderson.

On Saturday, the Philadelphia Orchestra and Ensemble Arts hosted a day full of events to formally dedicate Marian Anderson Hall. The day began with a smaller, afternoon ceremony with Mayor Cherelle Parker and several other speakers. In the evening, the Great Stages Gala and Concert provided programming filled with various tributes to Anderson.

When the naming rights to the space, previously known as Verizon Hall, expired philanthropists Richard Worley and Leslie Miller donated $25 million with the understanding that the concert hall would be named after Anderson. Katharine Schimmer, who serves as the director of strategic initiatives for Philadelphia Orchestra and Ensemble Arts, says that type of generosity in a donor isn't common.

"This is one of the rare concert halls that is named after an artist, as opposed to a donor," Schimmer said. "Usually their names end up on the hall. But Rich and Leslie have a vision that's greater than them."

On Saturday evening, a star-studded concert was the first event to take place in the musical venue since its renaming. Emceed by Queen Latifah, the Great Stages Gala and Concert featured three-time Grammy Award-winner soprano Latonia Moore; Emmy-, Grammy-, and six-time Tony Award-winning soprano and actress Audra McDonald; and two-time Grammy Award-winner soprano Angel Blue.

Schimmer said it didn't take much for some of the biggest names in entertainment to say "yes" to an event paying tribute to Anderson.

"Putting together a program like this, you have to have artists who share your values," Schimmer said. "We were very fortunate to have a cast of remarkable artists ... who themselves felt like Marian Anderson had opened doors for them."

Another artist, singer Jillian Patricia Pirtle, feels Anderson opened doors for her. Pirtle, who serves as the CEO of the National Marian Anderson Museum, says she's excited that the naming of the hall will provide an opportunity for future generations to continue learning about Anderson's legacy.

"To have a prestigious hall in the Kimmel Center renamed after Marian Anderson is such a historic and monumental moment in Marian Anderson's life story and legacy," Pirtle said. 

With the announcement of the rededication, Philadelphia Orchestra announced a partnership with the United Negro College Fund to create the Marian Anderson Scholarship. The endowed scholarship will be given annually to two Philadelphia students who are pursuing a career in either performing arts or performing arts administration.

Schimmer says the organization is also working on developing an exhibit about Marian Anderson in the hall so guests can read about her when they attend events. Additionally, a picture of Marian Anderson is now hung just above stage right, which is where every artist enters.

"Every time an artist goes onstage now in Marian Anderson Hall, Marian Anderson will be watching over them," she said. "They will see her. They will remember her legacy."

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