Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Santa Fe New Music Presents "The Language of Birds"

Rehearsals are in high gear for the Santa Fe youth opera The Language of Birds, written by my brother, composer John Kennedy, artistic director of Santa Fe New Music.

This two-act opera premiered in 2004 with the Sarasota Opera in Florida; it was showcased at the 2004 “Opera America” convention.

The Santa Fe production features a cast of some 70 young people from pre-kindergarten to age 19, working with a production and artistic team of international quality, and supported musically by a professional chamber orchestra. The cast is culturally, economically, and developmentally diverse, representing 17 schools and some homeschooled youth from seven New Mexico cities and towns, within four counties.

There are three performances this March 27 and 28 at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe. I so wish I was there! I'm grateful that my parents, Joyce and Wally, are going to see the show. Jasmine and Jade, my nieces, are among the cast members: that's Jasmine, above, with the gold headband, in the blue sweater; and Jade in turquoise. Their mom, Rozella Kennedy, is general manager of Santa Fe New Music.

The team effort, discipline, excitement, and validation offered to young people by an experience like this one are so valuable, with many potential ripple effects for their futures. The fact that their voices are taken seriously, that they work across a range of ages, and that they anticipate the ephemeral thrill of real theater is something they won't soon forget. It helps them integrate and coordinate many skills, from song and dance to memorization, presentation, set design and production values. And it's so much better than just watching endless reruns of High School Musical, in its various incarnations! Here, the kids are up off the couch and in their own opera. How often do they have an opportunity like that?

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