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William Warfield Scholarship Fund 2024 Benefit Concert: “A Cast in History” featuring Kayla Sconiers

Since its establishment in 1977, the William Warfield Scholarship Fund, Inc. (WWSF) has provided financial aid to more than 50 African American classical singers, including students from the Eastman School of Music and high school-aged performers. The WWSF Board of Directors invites you to attend its 47th annual benefit concert on Sunday, January 21, 2024, at 4:00 p.m., in Kilbourn Hall, featuring the 2023-2024 William Warfield Scholarship Recipient, current Eastman student Kayla Sconiers ’24E, mezzo-soprano; Joshua Conyers, Assistant Professor of Voice at Eastman; and Herb Smith ’91E, third trumpet for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and Eastman Community Music School faculty member.

“Being the recipient of the William Warfield Scholarship is an immense privilege and self-confidence boost for me as an African American performer in the arts,” said Sconiers. “This network of trailblazers inspires me to achieve my goals and aspirations. As I grow and gain new knowledge from the program, I will carry the experience with me forever by encouraging others along the way.“ She adds, “I am grateful to my instructors, mentors and advisors for their unwavering support and guidance in nurturing my passion for music.”

Joining Sconiers on the concert program are Thomas Warfield, William Warfield Scholarship Fund President Emeritus/Artist; Anthony Walker, pianist; Kevin Nitsch ’92E (MM), ’95E (DMA), pianist; and Concert Emcee Deanna Dewberry, Anchor and Investigative Reporter for News10 NBC and WHEC-TV.

“It is an honor to perform at the William Warfield Benefit Concert,” exclaims Joshua Conyers. “Mr. Warfield is a pillar of the opera community and paved the way for black opera singers like me. To have the opportunity to honor him and give back to the community is an absolute privilege.”

The 2024 William Warfield Legacy Award will be presented to The Mt. Vernon Missionary Baptist Church, for its distinguished service and financial contribution to the scholarship fund; with special mention to the Mt. Vernon Male Chorus who has ministered annually through song at the scholarship benefit concert for many years.

This year’s theme A Cast in History pays tribute to the captivating documentary, “William Warfield: Cast in History” (2022), which received a New York Emmy® Award nomination in 2023, and will be highlighted during the concert. It delves into the life and legacy of Warfield, and features the collaborative, behind-the-scenes effort in developing the bust of Warfield that now sits in the courtyard of Eastman’s Miller Center. “This recognition is a testament to the exceptional storytelling and filmmaking prowess showcased in the documentary,” remarks Lolita Forsett, WWSF Board President. The documentary was produced by Rochester Institute of Technology in partnership with WWSF, Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester, The City of Rochester, Thomas Warfield and nationally recognized Rochester artist Shawn Dunwoody.

Tickets are $30 for general admission and $10 for students with URID. They may be purchased at

Please consider supporting the WWSF by donating here:

For more information, visit the William Warfield Scholarship Fund.


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