Opera singers go one-on-one with aspiring CPS students

Some aspiring young singers are getting a feel for the big stage. The CPS students are getting a rare opportunity to learn from professional singers who are starring in a long-running show this weekend.
January 17, 2014 3:35:47 PM PST
Some aspiring young singers are getting a feel for the big stage. The CPS students are getting a rare opportunity to learn from professional singers who are starring in a long-running show this weekend.

It's not easy to stand on stage in front of crowd of your peers and belt out a tune-- in your best Italian.

"I get really nervous -- especially singing in front of professionals," Yhon Llanos, Lake View High School senior, said.

It can be even more daunting if two of the country's premier opera singers are also critiquing your performance.

"It was a privilege to be a part of this. And it was amazing to get the feedback and to meet professional singers to tell me about how life is being a musician," Niya Cooper, junior, said.

Choral students from Lake View High School in Chicago are rising to the challenge. Husband and wife opera singers Rodrick Dixon and Alfreda Burke are both performing in the ninth annual production of "Too Hot To Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah" this weekend at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. They are also giving one-on-one training to teens as part of an education outreach program between CPS and Roosevelt University, which is where Burke, a Chicago native, got her start.

"They're young. They're still growing. They're sponges and they're resilient. So any feedback that we give them they're going to implement it, bounce back and on to the next performance," Burke said.

Dixon, who toured the country as one of "Three Mo' Tenors" says it's important that students to see diversity in the genre and a path to success.

"Diversity and inclusion and not just cultural inclusion, but musical inclusion," Dixon said. "They came here because they were already serious artists. They don't need us to authenticate them. All we have to do is support their endeavor."

"Too Hot To Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah" is an adaptation of "Handel's Messsiah." Performances are this weekend at The Auditorium Theater. Find out details at auditoriumtheatre.org.


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