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Jan 31, 2022 |
sacred_in_opera  |

Winter 2022 Words of Welcome from our New Sacred in Opera Initiative Chair, Casey Robards

Dear Opera Lovers, Performers, Teachers, Friends, Welcome to the Winter 2022 edition of the Sacred in Opera Newsletter. We are excited to bring you news from the National Opera Association National Conference that recently took place in person in St. Augustine, Florida. The SIO Initiative Committee was pleased to present a breakout session on the works of centenary composers Seymour Barab and Dave Brubeck. Two articles will further expand upon the January 7, 2022 SIO breakout session. Philip Seward (Columbia College Chicago) and Prof. Amy Pfrimmer (Tulane University), who toured extensively with Brubeck, invite us to discover jazz pianist Dave Brubeck’s large-scale sacred vocal compositions. Dr. Kurt-Alexander Zeller (Clayton State University) shares insight on the theology of Only a Miracle by Seymour Barab.

We will continue to honor centenary composers born in 2021 and 2022 in our summer 2022 newsletter, in addition to our recurring column on Jewish opera by Dr. Kathleen Roland-Silverstein (Syracuse University). Please reach out to Dr. Tammie Huntington (Indiana Wesleyan University), newly-appointed editor of the SIO Newsletter, with your ideas for future topics of reflection/discussion for our readership. We welcome your submissions!

As we look ahead to future conferences and gatherings, the Sacred in Opera Initiative is committed to an inclusive path that gives voice to a broad scope of performers, composers, scholars, educators, producers, and creatives who explore the intersection of faith and theater. What aspects of our beliefs and religions are performative? What rituals are present and faith communities are created in production? I recently conducted Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers and the line that stays with me is Madeline’s statement, “… I found on the stage what every person desires. Not escape, but connection.” We all know the power of sung and staged drama to connect us to our shared humanity, experiences, grief, and celebration. Emotions felt individually can be transported to a different level of meaning and new activity when acknowledged and processed collectively. Together we can help one another find hope, or at least persevere. Together, we can listen and learn from our past. We can choose to keep dreaming and working toward the future we want.

Before I close, I want to acknowledge that I am most humbled and honored to continue the work of the Sacred in Opera Initiative as your new Chair. Please join me in thanking Dr. Isaí Jess Muñoz (University of Delaware) for his seven years of dedicated service as the SIO Chair. His impact is immeasurable, and compassionate leadership palpable. Thank you so much, Jess, for your heart, passion for inclusivity, and endless appetite for doing good works.

Finally, I want to extend my personal thanks to the members of the SIO committee, each one bringing perspective, expertise, history, warmth, energy and cooperation:  Kurt, Michelle, Philip, Ryu-Kyung, Ruth, Susan, Tammie, thank you for your work!


Dr. Casey Robards
The Sacred in Opera Initiative of the NOA, Chair
Clinical Asst. Prof. in Keyboard/Vocal Coaching, University of Illinois
Conductor, Head of Collaborative Piano, Bay View Music Festival