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Midtown Monitor

Tulsa Opera to Launch TPS Music Program

Tulsa Opera is launching an after-school vocal music program to support and benefit Tulsa Public Schools in a time of great need for the school district, notes Greg Weber, Tulsa Opera general director and CEO.

The program, titled Raise Your Voice!, will specifically reach students in six economically disadvantaged middle/junior high schools for the 2017-2018 school year. The Tulsa Public Schools Board approved the program in June.

“The arts are more than a ‘nice-to-have,’” says Weber. “The arts and music represent a universal language all of us speak. We are honored to be collaborating with TPS to put vocal music training back in these schools.”

More than 2,800 TPS students, which is 63 percent of the district’s 4,439 middle/junior high school students, no longer have access to vocal music classes at school. The Raise Your Voice! program, with lead funding from a $39,000 Opera America Innovation Grant, will offer vocal music training to upwards of 50 students at each of the selected six schools: Webster Middle School, Thoreau Demonstration Academy, Monroe Demonstration School, Hale Junior High, East Central Junior High and Memorial Junior High.

Students in the program will meet weekly during the school year to learn basic vocal techniques and choral singing, and they will perform several times throughout the year at community and school events.

Students will be admitted into the classes on a first-come, first-served basis, and no audition will be necessary. In addition to regular vocal music sessions with local teachers, students will have the opportunity to work with professional opera singers from around the world. Students and their families will also have the opportunity to attend Tulsa Opera performances for free.

“There are six middle schools that do not have vocal music teachers. This puts them at a disadvantage when compared with other middle schools at Tulsa Public Schools and the surrounding communities,” says TPS Director of Fine Arts Ann Tomlins. “This program will allow children at these sites to continue their music instruction so they will enter high school with a skill set similar to their peers across the region.”

The Opera America Innovation Grant is one of 27 that was awarded to North American opera companies in June with $1.4 million from the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation. Opera America solicited grants on behalf of the Getty Foundation and focused on awarding funds to opera companies with a diverse range of goals, including internal structure and staffing, educational and community outreach, and the production of new work. The grantees will share the results of their programs with each other to better position themselves for 21st-century audiences.

Updated 08-13-2017

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