Bradley Opera Youth Outreach program begins its inaugural season

October 11, 2012

Pictured from left to right are: Rebecca Crank, Tracey Furling, Kinza Hagerup, Nicole Hansen, Gregory Schamberger (in back), Katie Burnham and Anna Pittenger.
Photo taken at Lindberg Middle School, Peoria, Illinois

By Brigitte Graf '13

The Bradley Opera Youth Outreach, or BOYO, program is in full swing this fall with its first season of performances. The program, designed and coordinated by Dr. Kerry Walters, associate professor of music, aims to expose local students to opera.

"I was looking for a way to provide the vocal performance majors with a fall semester performance experience doing opera scenes," Walters said. "I thought the project would also be a means of bringing opera into local schools to educate students in an art form to which they have had little exposure."

The troupe is composed of seven Bradley students from the music department, five singers and two pianists.

BOYO's show is a compilation of several scenes from various operas including Gilbert & Sullivan's "Patience" and Mozart's "Cosi Fan Tutte."  

Even though several of the pieces were composed in different languages, they will each be performed in English by the Bradley group. This is so that the audience of students, mainly fourth through twelfth graders, will be able to better follow.

"Since we're singing everything in English the audience will have a pretty easy time understanding what's going on in each scene," Walters said. "I think the average person has the mistaken impression that opera involves a lady with horns on her head singing at the top of her lungs. There is so much more than Brunhilde and Wagner."

The Bradley students performing in the shows have been rehearsing their music throughout the summer in preparation for this semester.

"Several of these students have plans to go on to graduate school so the more experience they've had onstage the greater their chances of presenting themselves successfully at future auditions," Walters said. "Participation promotes self-confidence, a solid work ethic and creative thinking."

One of the most significant aspects of BOYO is how it brings opera to students in an inviting approach.

"In a world where education in the arts in the public schools is sadly waning, this is a way to introduce and promote opera as a 'consumer' art form­-one that all people can enjoy no matter your background or upbringing," Walters said. "Opera is a living, breathing thing which can be enjoyed by all."

Shows are scheduled throughout the month of October and for the second weekend in November.