Opus Nine produces musical encounters that arouse and inspire audiences in communities without access to live music. The Ensemble carefully crafts their concert season to present a relevant artistic voice. Musical outreach and community engagement is a guiding priority for the Ensemble. In three years, the Ensemble has presented dozens of free community concerts in New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore and reached over 3,000 public school students with interactive workshops and student concerts. Additionally, Opus Nine is the Ensemble-in-Residence for the Music in Charter Schools Festival, a two-day event for charter school student musicians in Philadelphia that includes topical workshops, sectional and ensemble rehearsal and a culminating performance. The festival has grown from 75 participants in the inaugural year in 2009 to 300 students in 2011 from eleven participating schools.
Opus Nine is deepening their community engagement work by launching Sister Cities Girlchoir, an El Sistema-
inspired music for social change initiative that will provide greater access to music learning for underserved communities. Sister Cities Girlchoir (SCG) builds communities of music makers that empower at-risk girls to impact our world. With a shared bottom line of musical excellence and positive youth development, SCG targets girls from low-income communities as they traverse the gaps that young people from disenfranchised families encounter. Youth participants at three regional sites build critical tools to excel –academic, leadership and prosocial skills, social capital, resilience, and healthy habits –while exploring their area of interest. Creating excellent musicians is an output of the work, the ultimate goal is to provide a safe space for at-risk girls from fractured communities to gain confidence, build relationships, actively learn, find inner strength and then be allowed to pass it on.
Choral singing is a valued as a low-cost, high-outcome form of social development. It is an ideal model for building connection and resilience while enhancing academic and social skills in youth. Singers strive together for a positive outcome, meanwhile the individual serves the collective.