Classical music is not always embraced by the African American community, but a group of high school music students will buck the system and show off their talent during a special showcase while receiving feedback, and trips.
The Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts (CAAPA), a Washington, D.C. area based arts organization has been supporting aspiring, emerging, and established African American classical musicians throughout the region for nearly fourteen years. This year, the 501c3 organization’s annual scholarship program taps into the talents of high school students in a music showcase on Saturday, May 6, 2107 at Oxon Hill Library, 6200 Oxon Hill Road, Oxon Hill, Maryland at 11:00 am. The free-to-the-public showcase focuses on classical music performances of voice and instrumentalists, but also invited the students to perform a second selection of their choice, surprising attendees with what could be a jazz, gospel, R & B, country, folk or hip hop selection. The bottom line is CAAPA hopes to showcase the youth fostering a love of classical music in the community. Along with an opportunity to perform, students receive feedback from professional classical musicians, coaching, free tickets to operas and other performances, and a trip to the Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions. Coordinated by Jayne Johns, the program also offers every student who performs in the Showcase a monetary award with one top student selected and given a $1000.00 prize.
CAAPA Chairman of the Board Pamela Simonson, a classically trained soprano with the Washington national Opera stated,
“The Coalition is excited to see the budding talents of young people and are thankful to support student’s dreams.” Simonson also enjoys other genre of music and explained while youth often embrace the more contemporary art forms, classical music is basic training ground for technique and theory in other areas of music. Simonson continued by stating, “We hope to dispel the myth that classical music is an elitist art form encouraging others to embrace the art form.” She believes once the community sees and hear classical musicians passionately performed by African Americans, it will help people more readily embrace the art form. Simonson co-founded the organization a decade ago with her brother, is a classically trained pianist Victor Simonson, because they too were supported as students from the support of organizations and arts lovers.
“This is our way of giving back to the community”, shared Simonson. “We were beneficiaries of many organizations and it’s our way of saying thank you for supporting us”, she stated. The co-founders currently also have successful performance careers in classical music and often serve as mentors and role models for aspiring classical musicians.
The scholarship winners will also be presented at a CAAPA Gala, where the awardee will also perform. Additional information may be found on the organization’s website at https://4caapa.org/music-scholarships.htmlor contact the CAAPA offices at 301-839-1444.
CAAPA - Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts
"Bringing Color to the Classics!"
"Bringing Color to the Classics!"
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