For the last thirty years teaching has played a large part in Paul Sperry's busy career. From 1978-2002 he served on the faculty of the Aspen Festival and School where he taught song repertory and vocal technique. He taught at the the Juilliard School from 1984-2007 where, over the years, he gave courses in the entire 19th and 20th century song literature. In 1991 Mr. Sperry created the vocal program at the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan, and served as its director until 1997; while there he performed, taught master classes, gave private lessons and organized the recitals given by the Academy students. He joined the faculty of the Manhattan School in 1995 where he teaches courses on American song and has introduced a course in how to plan an effective song recital. Mr. Sperry is in demand for his master classes given at such prestigious institutions as the Eastman School of Music, the Peabody Institute, Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, the Cincinnati Conservatory, the Cleveland Institute of Music, the University of Southern California, Harvard and Yale.
Since 1987 Mr. Sperry has been the director of Joy In Singing, an organization devoted to helping young singers. Under their auspices, he gives an annual series of master classes in New York City from which the best students compete for the Joy In Singing Award: a series of concerts leading to a New York City debut recital. Joy In Singing also sponsors an annual concert celebrating one or more American composers.
Born in Chicago, Mr. Sperry graduated from Harvard College and continued his studies at the Sorbonne in Paris. He worked extensively with such masters of art-song interpretation as Pierre Bernac, Paul Ulanowsky and Jennie Tourel. Because he demonstrated a keen interest in new music, many of today's leading composers have written works especially for him; Sperry has world premieres of works by more than forty composers to his credit. He premiered Leonard Bernstein's Dybbuk Suite with the composer conducting the New York Philharmonic, Jacob Druckman's Animus IV for the opening of the Centre Georges Pompidou at Beaubourg in Paris, Bernard Rands' Pulitzer Prize winning Canti del Sole with the New York Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta, Hans Werner Henze's Voices with the London Sinfonietta and Karlheinz Stockhausen's first opera, Donnerstag aus Licht at La Scala, Milan. Other composers whose works he has premiered include Robert Beaser, William Bolcom, Daniel Brewbaker, Tom Cipullo, Nathan Currier, Charles Fussell, Daron Hagen, Richard Hundley, Libby Larsen, Bruno Maderna, Paul Moravec, John Musto, Rob Paterson, Stephen Paulus, Russell Platt, Larry Alan Smith, Louise Talma, Francis Thorne, Nicholas Thorne, Dan Welcher, Charles Wuorinen and Judith Lang Zaimont.
Because he is a passionate advocate for American music, Sperry has tried to insure that many of the wonderful works he has unearthed will be easily available to others. To that end, he has compiled and edited several volumes of American songs, both anthologies and single composer collections for G. Schirmer, Peer-Southern, Boosey & Hawkes, Carl Fischer and Dover Publications. His collection American Encores was released by Oxford University Press in October, 2002. He has a discography of over thirty CDs.