CCPA continues involvement in Pilsen, Edgewater
Published: Monday, March 19, 2012
Updated: Monday, March 19, 2012 12:03
Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts carried on the school’s commitment to social justice in early March by reaching out to the city’s Edgewater and Pilsen communities with free performances of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Magic Flute.
CCPA Music Conservatory singers and musicians hosted a fully staged opera March 2 and 3 at Pilsen’s Benito Juarez Community Academy. At Edgewater’s Senn High School performers held a semi-staged concert production version March 5 and 6 to kick off the neighborhood’s weeklong performing arts festival, Spotlight on Edgewater.
“I would say in the last two years roughly, we started to focus on community engagement programs,” CCPA Dean Henry Fogel said.
Fogel said he wanted to pick a couple of communities to focus the college’s attention on.
“We don’t have the kind of resources...to do 100 events all over the city,” Fogel said. ”I would rather make an impact in a few places and have some depth to the relationships.”
Jodi Kurtze of the Roosevelt Office of Institutional Advancement said the relationship between the CCPA and the Pilsen and Edgewater communities began shortly after Fogel was hired.
“What is our role in the community?” Kurtze said he asked. “How does CCPA exhibit and live social justice in the context of the performing arts?”
Relationships were soon developed with aldermen, community groups and development organizations in both neighborhoods.
Fogel says the facilities in Pilsen and Edgewater played large role as well in deciding where to focus community engagement.
“What we have to send out is either a full symphony orchestra or an opera...You can’t do that in a tiny space,” Fogel said. ”It happens that both Senn and Benito Juarez have terrific facilities.”
According to the CCPA dean, The Magic Flute Benito Juarez performance, with a facility large enough to accommodate an orchestra and full staging, reached about 80 percent capacity on the first night and was completely full on the second. The turnout at Senn’s recently renovated venue wasn’t quite as staggering, but continued to strengthen the college’s relationship with the Edgewater Development Corporation by performing for a second year at Spotlight on Edgewater.
Along with the CCPA, the music, theater and visual arts festival was presented by Good News Only, the Neo-Futurists, the Swedish American Museum, Joel Hall Dance, Redtwist Theatre, Raven Theatre, the Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, the Blue Theatre and Mary’s Attic.
“Here we are really building an arts audience in a community,” Kurtze said. “And we’re cooperating to make sure that the entire audience knows about the varied selection that’s available in Edgewater.”
In what will surely be a tribute to Pilsen’s Hispanic heritage, the CCPA Symphony Orchestra will visit Benito Juarez again on April 16 to perform works by celebrated Mexican composer and CCPA alumnus Silvestre Revueltas. Award-winning Mexican-American conductor Alondra de la Parra, 31, will conduct the concert. Known for conducting some of the nation’s most prestigious orchestras, Fogel said Parra is the most important conductor to come out of Mexico at such a young age.
Passionate about engaging communities outside of the Roosevelt campus, Fogel hopes to continue the college’s partnerships in Pilsen and Edgewater. He said audiences are routinely impressed by the professional level of performance by students, which bring credit to both the CCPA and Roosevelt. But more importantly, Fogel said it brings great art and great music to communities that aren’t saturated with it.