Page 73 - Classical Singer magazine 2019 Fall University Issue
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founded, the AVA was also founded as a tuition-free institution, and
so it remains. And the Settlement Music School, which began o ering piano lessons for a nickel, now has six branches serving the entire Philadelphia area. It remains dedicated to arts education for
all and, along with Curtis and the AVA, these three institutions have made Philadelphia the gold standard of urban commitment to musical education. They are a pipeline not only for talent but audiences as well.
When Lenfest Hall opened in 2011, the Philadelphia Orchestra was struggling in bankruptcy. It was later rescued by an anonymous donation of $55 million. The  eld of opera is “ever evolving” as Devan puts it. And the future of classical music is far from guaranteed.
But to Owens, this is nothing new. “When I think about when the
very  rst opera was produced, a few weeks later, everyone was saying, ‘Who is going to come and see this?’ and ‘It costs too much money.’ And all these centuries later, we’re still doing it. Is it like it was at its zenith? No. But it’s still going on, so I remain incredibly hopeful.”
Remarking on the competition of Net ix, YouTube, and even classical streaming options,
Owens says, “that is not the same experience as seeing something
live when you have hundreds or thousands of people in the same room for the same thing. That’s a beautiful thing you cannot replicate in front of the computer or television.”
Looking ahead, Owens is excited about collaboration between the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Met, which will utilize Curtis singers in workshops of new operas. “Even if
they are not the ones ultimately singing the roles at the Met, it’s an amazing opportunity for our singers.”
But the focus at Curtis has been, and will remain, the individualized development of its artists. “Our job at Curtis,” Owens says, “is to make sure,  rst and foremost, that anyone coming out of Curtis can sing as well as they can and perform as well as they can—encompassing singing, acting, and everything that entails. That’s our job.”
Lisa H ouston is a dramatic soprano from Berkeley, California, and a longtime contributor to Classical Singer magazine and San Francisco Classical Voice. You can follow her at www .F
S ingerS pirit or read more about her at www
February 1, 8 and 29. Auditions also available by appointment. 73

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