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Children’s opera fills the air with music

Once again the halls of Braden will ring out with music as local students fill the auditorium to hear the opera, S.H.O.T. The program will be presented twice a day the weeks of April 19-23 in Natchez and April 26-30 to surrounding communities.

The Educational Outreach Program of the Natchez Festival of Music provides an opportunity for all communities of children to experience an opera composed for young people, which is presented by young professional opera singers. Each year, the festival offers an opera which not only introduces young students to outstanding music, but also teaches lessons about ways to enhance and improve their lives.

Safe Streets and Safe Street Programs are national programs funded by local governments across the United States. The Children’s opera, “S.H.O.T.,” written by Christian McLeer and based on an incident that occurred in New York and inspired by this program, addresses street crimes on a child’s level so that children can learn about them and avoid such things as drugs, crime and other troubling activities. Themes addressed in the opera include tolerance, awareness, acceptance of generational and cultural differences, and the importance of working with one’s own community to create a safe and happy environment.

Schools with students from kindergarten through sixth grade that will participate at Braden include the following: Adams County Christian School; Cathedral Elementary School; the Home/School Association; Huntington School; the Natchez Public Schools — Frazier, McLaurin, Morgantown and West; and Trinity Episcopal Day School.

Other area schools will hear the opera in their own settings as the cast of S.H.O. T. takes the opera on the road. These include Brookhaven Academy and Brookhaven Elementary School in Brookhaven, Centreville Academy, CEF School and Chamberlain-Hunt Academy in Port Gibson, Franklin County Upper Elementary and Franklin County Lower Elementary in Bude, Jefferson County Public Schools Lower and Upper Elementary, Tensas Academy and Tensas Elementary in St. Joseph, La., Vidalia Lower Elementary and Vidalia Upper Elementary and Wilkinson County Christian Academy.

There will be an evening presentation of the opera for the public at 7 p.m. May 1 at Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center. Students from grades kindergarten through 12 who bring one or more of their parents to see this opera will receive free tickets to the presentation for themselves and their parents. The Natchez Festival of Music is interested in promoting safety for the youth of our area and enhancing the quality of life for students. S.H.O.T. will provide an exciting and thoughtful evening of wonderful music and an opportunity for everyone to enjoy some of the finest young talent from New York.

Bobbye Wynn is a retired music teacher and serves as chairman of the Educational Outreach Program for the Natchez Festival of Music.

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