The Metropolitan Opera Guild’s Urban Voices: A Choral Music Initiative

This spring, New York City elementary, middle, and high school students who participated in the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s “Urban Voices” program will showcase their skills by performing choral works for their school communities. As the culmination of a year-long choral-music program, in which students work with Guild-trained Choral Artist partners once a week, these concerts celebrate the accomplishments of Urban Voices students as well as the joy of singing together. Featuring a wide variety of repertoire purposefully tied to other areas of each school’s curriculum, these spring concerts bring together parents, teachers, and students for festive community occasions.

The Urban Voices program is designed for under-resourced schools with large low-income student populations – often schools that have no music program of their own. It introduces its participants to a variety of repertoire from different cultures, genres, and time periods. Students learn to listen to themselves and others, to articulate and comprehend lyrics, and they become familiar with basic musical notation. According to Jesse Cohen, the Guild’s Director of Development and Communications, “Thanks to the popularity of Glee, there’s more awareness about the joy of singing in groups and in harmony, and we are excited to provide an opportunity – at every grade level – to those who want to participate in this marvelous activity but may not otherwise be able to do so.”

The Metropolitan Opera Guild actively pursues its mission to foster an engaged audience for opera. The Guild’s Education Department provides innovative music and arts education programs to a broad community of learners. These programs include rehearsals as well as performances at the Metropolitan Opera; family education programs to introduce children to opera; a lecture series for adults; school residency programs; professional development courses for teachers; and research collaborations with institutes of higher learning and other arts organizations.

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