Shenandoah Conservatory of Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.-based opera company IN Series announce a season-long partnership to collaboratively create three digital opera premieres for release in 2020 and 2021. Finding opportunity in COVID-19-imposed restrictions on in-person singing, IN Series welcomes 16 of Shenandoah’s graduate and undergraduate voice students to remotely provide the ensemble for upcoming co-productions of Gluck’s “Orphée et Eurydice”; “Boheme in the Heights,” based on Puccini’s “La Boheme”; and Bizet’s “The Pearl Fishers.”
Regular performer at IN Series and Associate Professor of Voice (Tenor) Byron Jones ’04, D.M.A., spoke highly of the opportunity. “Having been associated with IN Series since 1991, I know how richly creative and transformative their work is. I am thrilled that our students will get the chance to work with such a visionary company. Not only will they learn from the experience, but they will also establish professional connections that they may have for decades to come.”
IN Series Artistic Director Timothy Nelson echoes his optimism. “IN Series is honored and grateful to be in partnership with the choral program of Shenandoah Conservatory. The move to a fully virtual season has brought challenges and vast amounts of learning, but it has also presented opportunities for new partnerships. In a year when IN Series is able to explore traditional operatic works with great choral components, something we don’t often have the chance to produce, we are excited to lean on the experiences of Shenandoah’s virtual choirs, to grow from the enthusiasm of their talented students and faculty, and to offer performance opportunities in the dynamic season we are all experiencing.”
While group singing is considered one of the highest-risk activities for spreading coronavirus, Shenandoah Associate Professor of Voice and Director of Choral Activities Matthew Oltman, D.M.A., spoke assuredly about the strict protocols in place to ensure the safety of students and staff. “We’ll have eight singers at a time rehearsing together inside for a maximum of thirty minutes. They will be masked and at least 12 feet apart. Outside, all sixteen of them may sing together, masked and 12 feet apart for 30 minutes. Safety measures will also affect how we record. We may have to record in groups of four or some other creative configuration. We look forward to figuring out a way in which music production and recording technology students can help us safely capture the recordings for this project.” He added, “This collaboration is really fantastic. It may be the only real ‘performance’ opportunity SU choral students have this semester.”
“Orphée et Eurydice” premieres on Monday, Nov. 2, the first in a trilogy of projects about love and loss in the time of COVID-19. Real-life husband and wife Benjamin Williamson and Paula Sides take on this story of love at the edge of life and death. “Boheme in the Heights” is scheduled for release on Dec. 24, and “The Pearl Fishers” makes its debut in late February 2021.
All three performances will be available for streaming through digital platforms hosted by Shenandoah Conservatory and IN Series.
CP4U, Shenandoah Conservatory’s new digital streaming platform, showcases a dynamic lineup of music, theatre and dance by the conservatory’s own award-winning faculty and students, as well as internationally acclaimed guest artists. CP4U Sustaining Members enjoy access to all digital content throughout the Conservatory Performs 2020/21 season, priority email communication, reduced ticket prices to live performances and more. CP4U Sustaining Memberships start at $75 and are tax deductible. Single-viewing access will be available for purchase for some programs. To view an entire calendar of events, purchase tickets and learn more, visit Conservatory Performs online at conservatoryperforms.org or by phone at 540-665-4569. Regular box office hours are Monday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m.
All productions of IN Series’ virtual season are available on INvision: The Logan Operahouse Without Walls, a first-of-its kind multi-venue digital performing arts center. There is no cost for a non-subscription membership to the site, and anyone can sign up for free at www.invision.inseries.org. Subscriptions are $9.99 a month for individuals or $99 a year, $198 a year for a couple or $149 a year for a senior couple.