In Sunday’s (1/3) Los Angeles Times, Karen Wada writes, “As the crew checks the lighting and the lead singers relax in the wings, Los Angeles Opera director Eli Villanueva zeros in on a weak spot he noticed during the just-completed rehearsal. … Villanueva and his colleagues are helping students put on ‘The Marriage of Figueroa,’ a whimsical blend of Mozart and California history, as part of an L.A. Opera program designed to teach the basics of opera and performance in a language children understand. … For many orchestral and choral organizations, youth outreach no longer means traditional (read: boring) concerts in which a conductor lectures the crowd then plunges into a selection of chestnuts. … Today, programs are interactive and interdisciplinary. ‘Children learn by doing and they learn in different ways—visual, musical, emotional and physical,’ says Jessica Balboni, director of the Orchestra Leadership Academy of the League of American Orchestras. ‘They also learn best through relationships.’ In the last decade, she says, ‘the idea of a one-off show with one contact point’ has been replaced by ‘civic engagement—where we establish sustainable relationships with children, schools and community.’ ” Wada profiles the community engagement activities of four organizations, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pacific Symphony, Los Angeles Master Chorale, and Los Angeles Opera.
Posted January 5, 2010