MACON — Students and faculty from Mercer University Opera have teamed up with Stone Academy at the Booker T. Washington Center, artist Wini McQueen and dance choreographer Pilar Wilder, to produce “A Muskrat Lullaby,” a children’s opera. Students and alumni from Mercer, joined by Stone Academy students, will give four performances on two stages Oct. 18-21. The performances are the result of a partnership between Mercer University and the Macon Arts Alliance’s education program, the Douglass Theatre and Georgia Department of Children and Families and the Central Georgia Opera Guild. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information call (478) 301-5751.
The engaging, charming one-hour show opens at The Douglass Theatre in downtown Macon on Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 18 and 19, at 6 p.m., then moves to Fickling Hall in the McCorkle Music Building at Mercer for 6 p.m. performances on Thursday and Friday, Oct. 20 and 21. This production is appropriate for ages 5 and older and promises to delight and entertain young and old alike, said Dr. Martha L. Malone, chair of vocal studies at Mercer’s Townsend School of Music and director of Mercer University Opera.
“This show is the perfect example of arts integration in education: kids in the production learn team-building and personal responsibility skills, as well as experiencing art, music, dance and drama both on stage and from the audience,” Dr. Malone said. “The greatest thing about this opera, and what makes it so successful and popular across the country, is that it is charming and funny enough for both adults and children in the audience. The music is fresh and catchy, and the story is geared to the interests and attention span of the small child. And even better, the audience gets to yell out lines and sing along. We will teach the audience their parts before the show and kids can ask the performers questions after the show.”
In light of recent violence within the community, Jim Coleman, executive director of Macon Arts Alliance, believes a renewed focus on programs that take kids off the streets and give them an outlet of expression must be part of our community’s plan for the future.
“These performances are a great example of a public-private partnership giving local children the opportunity to do something positive with their time and energy,” he said.
Even the themes of “A Muskrat Lullaby,” which include teamwork and the transformative power of music, are relevant to the issues facing the community today. By taking children onto college campuses, they are exposed, many for the first time, to the positive educational opportunities that life has to offer, Coleman said. When they are able to participate in an event such as this, they learn self-esteem, social skills, reading and language skills. They may see possibilities they never knew existed, he added.
“We are having a great time working with the teachers and kids from the Stone Academy after-school arts program at the Booker T. Washington Community Center, and are excited to be performing at the historic Douglass Theatre and at Fickling Hall at Mercer, it’s a true community wide collaboration,” Dr. Malone said.
Townsend School of Music
Mercer University’s Townsend School of Music and the Townsend-McAfee Institute for Graduate Studies in Church Music offer undergraduate and graduate professional music studies in a comprehensive university environment. The School is nationally recognized for its outstanding faculty, award-winning students, performance ensembles and state-of-the-art facilities. It is home to the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings. Mercer University is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Music.
About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,200 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah and at four regional academic centers across the state. Mercer is affiliated with two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah and the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit www.mercer.edu.
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