Overture! Curtains! Lights!
December 10, 2005
If all the world is a stage, some of the players must be opera singers.
This was the attitude at Park City High School recently when apprentice artists from the Utah Opera came to teach and perform for choir students. "One of our basic core beliefs is everybody should have the opportunity to experience all sorts of music in their life," said Paula Fowler, director of education and community outreach for the Utah Symphony and Opera. "You never know what kind of music or music -maker is going to be something that makes everyone excited and then see what adds to their own lives and sparks their own interest."
Five opera artists four singers and one pianist visited Park City High School on Dec. 1, as part of the opera company’s student outreach through POPS (Professional Outreach Performance in the Schools), a state-funded resource, and other private donations that make school visits like this free. "We try to go to every public school in the state every three to five years," said Lori Fisher, educational assistant with the opera. "We help enhance the curriculum that’s already available and assist in helping the teachers to continue to motivate their students, to enhance their current curricular program." The artists performed scenes from operas and sang solos. Beyond the artistic side of professional singing, they answered questions from students about the realities of such a career. " high school, people are really interested in it as an avocation or a vocation, we have a more intimate program for high schools," Fowler said. "It’s kind of a school-to-work presenation for people who are having to think about college and eventual careers." When opera singers visit elementary or middle schools, they usually just do big assemblies, Fowler said, but high school students have more engaging questions they want to ask. Maria Alu, a soprano who visited Park City High School, said, "They have a lot of really insightful questions. Even the young ones and the middle school ones have insightful questions. It’s great to be able to share the art form that we love so much with young audiences." Park City teachers are very involved, Alu said, and choir director Derek Furch "is doing some really good things." "It’s a lot of fun to see the reactions of the different kids," Alu said. "It’s a lot of fun that we get to sing for different age groups. I actually really enjoy working with the high school kids." The other visiting apprentice artists were Glorivy Arroyo, mezzo-soprano (alto), Beau Gibson, tenor, Sean Damm, baritone/bass, and Shirley Chow, pianist. "These were students who were talking to future musicians on the how and why," Fisher said. "These are professionals and how often do schools get to see professional quality work in their schools?" Alu’s advice to any kids interested in the performing arts is: "If you have a career you want to pursue, go ahead and go after it. I know careers in the arts are not always the easiest things in the world but it’s definitely worth it," she said.