San Francisco Opera seeks out student talent

San Francisco Opera (SFO) has launched a new training programme that aims to uncover the next generation of musical idols. The Opera ARIA Music Performance Residency will engage school students aged 12-18 with coaching, mentoring and other talent development activities.

Funded by the Koret Foundation, the scheme has already taken on its first cohort, made up of students from Francisco Middle School (ages 13-14) and Ruth Asawa School of the Arts (ages 14-18). It has funding until the summer of 2020.

“Through Koret’s partnership we will bring together the immense talents of the SFO with students in the Bay Area who are already making the arts part of their lives,” said SFO general director Matthew Shilvock.

The most eye-catching element of the programme is the side-by-side rehearsals, which will see students work with SFO’s professional singers and musicians. Following these rehearsals the current project participants will perform excerpts from Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, Vivaldi’s Spring and other pieces alongside SFO Orchestra at the Wilsey Center for Opera on 26 October.

Serena Pon, arts coordinator/orchestra and piano teacher at Francisco Middle School, commented: “My students are excited to have this opportunity to play alongside the musicians of the SFO. Their newly acquired skills will help them in high school and beyond. Performing with the SFO Orchestra will be an experience they will remember for the rest of their lives.”

Opera ARIA Music Performance Residency will expand over the next to years to schools where access to arts training may otherwise be limited.