Eastman School of Music to unveil William Warfield sculpture

Stock photo.

The William Warfield Scholarship Fund — along with Thomas Warfield, the Eastman School of Music, Rochester Institute of Technology and the city of Rochester — are collaborating to honor William Warfield with a bronze sculpture and commemorative plaque. 

The sculpture’s official reveal will be held at 11 a.m. Sept. 27 in Eastman’s Miller Center Courtyard, 26 Gibbs St. The installation celebration will include a press conference with remarks from each of the collaborating organizations and artist Shawn Dunwoody. 

“William Warfield has always been a history maker, and it’s no surprise that at a time when statues are being removed or relocated because of negative connotations all across the country, he is honored with the installation of a bust, signifying success and inspiration,” WWSF President Lolita Forsett said. 

Warfield’s nephew and WWSF board historian, Thomas Warfield, added that “As a product of the Rochester City Public Schools and Eastman School of Music, it is appropriate that we honor him and his legacy. This bust will stand as a testament to his triumphant career and broad influence as a performing artist and educator, and his legacy that inspires others to strive for excellence.” 

This collaboration involved the work of many participants. Dunwoody is the bust sculptor; Elizabeth Kronfield, professor and graduate director for RIT’s College of Art & Design, oversaw the bronzing/final creation; and Kevin Gibson, executive director of operations at Eastman, coordinated the installation and placement in the courtyard. Thomas Warfield, Forsett, the WWSF board and donors were the driving force behind funding and realizing this project.   

“The city of Rochester is proud to partner with the William Warfield Scholarship Fund, Thomas Warfield, Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester and Rochester Institute of Technology to pay tribute to Rochester’s own William Warfield, one of the most renowned artists of the 20th century,” Mayor Lovely Warren said. “The installation of this sculpture will serve to inspire young classical singers all around the world and honor Rochester’s rich African American history.” 

A documentary film is underway by RIT University Creative Productions capturing the full scope of the project, including key moments in the design and creation of the bust, as well as highlighting Warfield’s life, achievements, archival videos of performances, photography and interviews with members of his family, the Scholarship Fund, Eastman School of Music and special audio of William Warfield as a voice student at Eastman. The documentary will be aired at a future date.