Inside San Diego

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Opera Wants to Hear Young Voices

"My Voice In The Arts" Opera Program

Sixth grader Isis Bermudez hopes to one day become a fashion designer. Right now, she’s fostering her creative spirit through the arts program at Empower Charter School, and she’s excited about a new opportunity for students across San Diego. My Voice In The Arts is an education program partially funded by a $5,000 grant from the City of San Diego. Students from grades sixth through twelfth at any school in the City can participate.

“We’re asking students to reflect on what the arts mean to them,” said David Bennett, general director of the San Diego Opera, during a news conference on Thursday, Nov. 12.

Students can submit an essay up to 400 words describing their experience with the arts, anything from music to movies. A panel will select two winners from each of the nine Council districts to receive tickets to four performances in the 2016 season of the San Diego Opera, along with backstage passes and special admittance to opera rehearsals. City Councilmembers Scott Sherman and Chris Cate took part in the announcement for My Voice In The Arts and encouraged local students to participate.

“Extracurricular art studies and activities help high-risk students in school,” said Councilmember Cate. “Not only does music improve skills in math and reading, but it promotes creativity, social development, positive personality and self worth.”

Encouraging young people to embrace the arts is part of the San Diego Opera’s plan for survival. Last year the organization almost went bust, facing a financial crisis. But a crowd-funding campaign was launched and David Bennett was hired with a new vision of creating a people’s opera.

“Now it’s about, what do we do going forward? What do we do to inspire the new generation to be involved in arts and culture in the City,” said Councilmember Sherman.

Isis Bermudez says she prefers R&B music, and her only exposure to opera was through her grandmother. But she’s excited to learn and be exposed to an art form that celebrates performance.

“I want to see how high the singers can hit the notes,” said Bermudez.