OperaTion Youth debuts June 5 in Rose Gellert Hall

Young writers, composers, performers to showcase talent in ambitious musical production at Langley Community Music School

Never before has Langley seen such an ambitious and audacious operatic production.

Written, composed and performed entirely by children aged 12 to 19 years old, OperaTion Youth is an initiative by the Langley Community Music School, which sought talented young people from the community at large and provided professional mentorship in all aspects of an operatic stage production. Participants received instruction in every aspect of the process, from story writing and music composition to set design, stage management, and orchestral and vocal performances.

After nearly two years, and hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of development, mentorship, interdisciplinary outreach, collaboration, and practice, two original one-act operas, entitled Two Cities and Seconds, Years, Forever, are ready to take the stage, in three performances,  June 5 and 6, in LCMS’ Rose Gellert Hall.

“This OperaTion Youth project has been an exceedingly valuable and precious experience for these young participants,” said LCMS principal Susan Magnusson.

“Rarely do young people of this age group get to be involved in this degree of complexity and engagement in a theatrical work, from initial story creation stage and music composition all the way to the performance.

“I hope that the public will come to the performances to encourage our young artists.”

The two operas are written, composed and performed entirely by local youth, some from the community at large and some current or former LCMS students.

Two Cities is a “once-upon-a-time” tale about a lonely giant, an endless ocean, a statue that grows people, and the bickering citizens of Elegance and Poverty who decide that only war can settle their differences.

The story was written by 12-year-old librettist Jasmin Jeong, and set to music by sisters Samantha Lee (age 15) and Jasmine Lee (age 13), and features lead vocal roles sung by Stephen Duncan, Samantha Lee, Jasmine Lee, Emmalene Van Meel, and Stephen Loney.

The second opera will be Seconds, Years, Forever. It explores friendship and asks the question, can there be an equal amount of love among three people?

In this moving story of trust, betrayal and reconciliation, three lives are changed forever when long-kept secrets are finally revealed. This original work was written by librettist Lauren Trotzuk (age 19), with the musical score by young composers Howard Chen (age 14) and Nathan Zemp (age 15). Vocalists Daniel Loney, Gillian Hagberg, and Sofija Ivanovic will perform the work.

These young people were selected through a competitive process, which was open to all youth in the community.

The stories were required to be developed on a socially relevant theme suitable for a family audience. The writers were mentored by professional playwright/librettist/director Kico Gonzales-Risso.

The composers were mentored by professional composer/pianist Marcel Bergmann.  And the vocalists and the LCMS Orchestra were mentored under the direction of conductor Joel Stobbe and repetiteur Anita Comba.

“Working with the young composers on this unique project has been a very stimulating and interesting experience,” said Bergmann, OperaTion Youth’s musical and artistic director.

“Although they had to face many challenges as they ventured into some new musical terrain — such as writing for singers and scoring for a chamber size orchestra — the final results have exceeded everybody’s expectations. I am sure that this invaluable and enriching creative endeavour will have a lasting musical impact on all of them.”

“Doing OperaTion Youth and watching our operas grow and come to fruition has really been an amazing experience for me, especially with the outstanding co-operation of our team,” said Jasmine Lee.

“OperaTion Youth helped me explore the extent of my skills in composition and performance,” added her sister, Samantha.

“I worked with a wonderful team, and together we learned many things and had a great time.”

Performances are Friday June 5 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, June 6, at both 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for LCMS students.

This project has been supported in part with funding through the BC Arts Council and Metro Vancouver’s Cultural Grants, and is sponsored by Tom Lee Music. Call the box office at 604-534-2848 or visit langleymusic.com to purchase tickets. The Rose Gellert Hall is located at 4899 207 St.

Langley Times

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