On Nov 13-16, 2022, the Amity Trio chamber music group used ARTSLab for the production of their multi-pronged children’s opera “Lucrecia y el canto de los dudasaurios.”
About the project:
Amity Trio, along with guest artists Dr. Olga Perez Flora and Nur Slim, will make an audio-video recording of Lucrecia y el canto de los dudasaurios for professional production and dissemination. This project addresses two fundamental problems in the world of classical music: 1) the lack of diverse representation of voices and 2) the limited accessibility intrinsic to live-only performances. The production of this audio-video recording will enable this innovative opera to reach diverse audiences across the globe.
Lucrecia y el canto de los dudasaurios is a groundbreaking interactive multilingual children’s opera. The first of its kind, it allows young people to explore the concept of self-identity through a playful and interactive musical world. The international virtual dissemination of this project will not only make it more accessible to young people and families globally, but it will also provide an expansive platform for voices historically excluded from the world of classical music. By Mexican compositora Nur Slim, this children’s opera explores self-identity, participatory music making, embodiment, family dynamics, English-Spanish-Spanglish fluidity, and improvisation!
Derived from the live in-person performance version of Lucrecia, the original opera material will ultimately lead to two related but distinct products in this project. The first product will be 20 one-minute chapters that draw on the original material and characters and live in the virtual and puppet world to be broadcast-ready; with the encouragement of WFIU, these short episodes would be designed to fit the parameters for interstitials regularly used by PBS affiliates on a national scale. The second product will be a half-hour version that is similar to the in-person opera, while using the same puppets and virtual world as the shorts; this longer form version would be distributed initially by our social media and broadcast channels globally, with a possibility of distribution later through PBS affiliates or other PBS-like stations throughout Latin America. Through both of these vehicles for Lucrecia, Amity Trio can jumpstart the music dissemination cycle and amplify voices through delightfully accessible programming for children. Furthermore, the interactive nature of both the half-hour version and the one-minute chapters will invite young audience members to step into Lucrecia’s world and actively participate in it through their imagination.
Thanks in large part to Brent Molnar at WTIU, we have been working closely with this PBS affiliate in Bloomington to develop the broadcast-ready projects in a way that would best suit the wide-ranging communities that the station serves. Brent is the one, in fact, who suggested converting the half-hour version into the one-minute interstitials. As an organization with the mission to uplift historically excluded voices, it is vital to us that there not be any economic barrier to access for this material. By collaborating with WTIU and other PBS affiliates, the shorts can be distributed by internet via the PBS Kids app, but also by the free broadcast that can be picked up via antenna, without need for a cable subscription. We hope that this will minimize barriers to access in homes, as well as make it possible to incorporate into classroom use by being readily available at no cost to the consumer. Because of the high production values Amity and the production team are insisting on, and with the charming and developmentally appropriate educational content we have mapped out, WFIU management has encouraged us to consider distributing the chapters to PBS affiliates nationwide, once the interstitials are proven to be well-received locally and regionally. Through this relationship with WTIU, we will be able to help close equity gaps in broadcast programming of classical music for children and their caregivers.
Amity Trio has also collaborated with Southwest DuBois County School Corporation, specifically with Rossina Sandoval Monsivais, Director of Community Engagement / Directora de Alcance Comunitario. In coordination with Rossina, the administration, and teachers in the elementary schools there, the Trio has already offered three mini-residencies: in fall 2021 working with the Lucrecia composer Nur Slim, in spring 2022 of the live version of Lucrecia, and in spring 2023 with an interdisciplinary song cycle supported in part by the Indiana Arts Commission. We also have worked with Dan Lyng, music teacher in Brown County, on the first live performance since spring of 2020 for the high school music program. With both partners, they were open to creative design of a project, we worked with them on developing the material and method of delivery that would be most meaningful for their constituents, and they gave us specific and useful feedback after the interactions (verbally and through a survey). At the same time as we engineer the content and format to meet the very specific PBS parameters, we also want to be sure to design them to support educators and community liaisons in their vital roles in our communities. Additionally, the Spanish – Spanglish – English content of Lucrecia benefits their two communities in distinct ways: it exposes the young people in Brown County to a language beyond their first language in a very accessible and understandable vehicle; and it honors the home language of many of the students in the Huntingburg schools in a way that Rossina described as “never having been celebrated in this way before.” Continuing to work with both of these community partners highlights Amity Trio’s commitment to deep and long lasting relationships with them as well as our commitment to continue to develop meaningful projects with them in the years to come.
Both in the wider PBS broadcast and in the specific distribution to our community partners, Amity Trio is intentionally targeting the audiences of young children and their caregivers. The surveys from previous performances of Lucrecia point to the benefit of having varied access points to draw in the audience; in these virtual editions, those will include high-level professional musical performances, socio-emotional development through playful puppetry and interactivity, and fluid movement among languages. The supplemental materials on the Amity Trio website–workbook, activities guide, singalong video, etc.–will remain freely available for families and teachers as well, setting up the possibility to continue with the music, play, and language outside of the specific viewing of the half-hour or one-minute versions.