OperaDelaware and the Wilmington Children's Chorus Announce NEIGHBORHOOD CHOIR INITIATIVE

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A collaborative project between OperaDelaware and the Wilmington Children's Chorus (WCC) was launched today with the ultimate goal of delivering classical vocal training to hundreds of students in Wilmington's underserved communities.

The new neighborhood choir initiative will begin at Warner Elementary School in the city of Wilmington. Kimberly Doucette, the artistic director of the WCC, will oversee the program. The neighborhood choir will be funded as one of OperaDelaware's educational initiatives, which are supported by The Delaware Division of the Arts, AstraZeneca, PNC Bank, DuPont, the Gannett Foundation, and the Presser Foundation.

"We are incredibly excited to launch our first neighborhood choir at Warner Elementary," said Brendan Cooke, general director of OperaDelaware. "The students are enthusiastic, and the teachers strongly support our presence in the school. There's great talent in our local schools, and we intend to nurture it through this program."

Warner Elementary has long served as the launch pad for OperaDelaware and other initiatives aimed at promoting the arts in urban schools. Warner is the home of the Warner Arts Alliance Program, an effort begun by OperaDelaware. The Alliance is a coalition of arts organizations that infuses the arts into the school's curriculum. The Opera in Classrooms Residency program and the Wilmington Youth Opera Program also received their start at Warner. Both programs foster the personal and creative development of individual children and turn classrooms into creative, positive, and productive learning environments. Warner's teachers conceived the Opera in Curriculum program, after seeing the connection between the arts and improved academic performance following OperaDelaware-sponsored appearances at the school.

"There are plenty of opportunities to reach children where they are, both at Warner and within many neighborhood schools," said Doucette. "We know through our work with WCC that exposure to musical training and the arts can be life-changing for children in underserved communities. We are excited to partner with OperaDelaware to add this neighborhood choir to the offerings of the Wilmington Children's Chorus. This project makes it easy for more children to grow through a curriculum that values beautiful singing and musicianship while developing leadership, focus and positive social interaction."

The OperaDelaware/WCC neighborhood choir initiative ultimately will create small choirs in community centers and schools throughout the area. The "satellite-site" model for musical training has been used with great success, as exemplified by the Chicago Children's Choir's use of neighborhood choirs. By having a community center or school staff participate in the operation of the program, children are assured they receive the support they need to attend rehearsals and practice the music.

The Warner program will culminate in a concert in May with members of the WCC Youth Choir, which rehearses in downtown Wilmington.

"The WCC is very gifted at training young voices," Cooke said. "We believe that the musical foundation and solid vocal technique that the WCC provides will increase our pool of talented singers and new audience members in the future. That's a win for us, for the arts community, and for the students as well."

OperaDelaware, the nation's 13th oldest professional opera company, celebrates its 69th season in 2013-2014. Our mission is to enrich the lives of people in the Mid-Atlantic region through meaningful arts education and the production of grand opera and intimate opera concerts, featuring established professional and emerging local and regional talent.

The Wilmington Children's Chorus is a multi-cultural children's choir sponsored in part by the City of Wilmington, Dennis P. Williams, Mayor, as a project of Cityfest, Inc. Any qualified child can participate for free, regardless of financial or social background. This program is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. To donate or audition for the WCC, please visitwww.wilmingtonchildrenschorus.org

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