Recent Curtis graduates bring their artistry to underserved communities in Philadelphia through the Curtis Community Artist Fellowship, a program that fortifies Curtis's commitment to service and allows alumni to extend, where possible, work they may have begun as students through the Community Artist Program (CAP). Curtis Community Artist Fellows are placed in existing partnerships between Curtis and institutions such as schools, hospitals, prisons, and rehabilitation centers. Fellows are able to continue their vital performance careers while serving the community. The 2018–19 Fellows are Nicholas DiBerardino (Composition ’18), Seula Lee (Violin ’18), and Nozomi Imamura (Trumpet ’15).
In collaboration with Girard College, fellow Nicholas DiBerardino (Composition ’18) creates a new children’s opera based on the Ghanaian folktale of Anansi the Spider. With the support of vocal students from Curtis’s Social Entrepreneur course, he will meet with students from Girard College and William Cramp Elementary School to create the opera’s libretto and score. The new work will be premiered as part of Curtis’s Family Concert series and at Girard College in March 2019.
Mr. DiBerardino will also work alongside Social Entrepreneur students at the Penn Memory Center, where they will organize regular performances and workshops inside and outside the hospital. Additionally, Mr. DiBerardino will assist in a Penn Memory Center research study about the effects of songwriting and composition on the mood and quality of life in both the patients and their caregivers.
Community Artist Fellow Nozomi Imamura (Trumpet ’15) is continuing his work at South Philadelphia High School with instruction and ensemble building during and after the school day. Curtis’s partnership with South Philadelphia High School, where 100 percent of students are economically disadvantaged, has gradually re-introduced instrumental music and musical theater into the curriculum after years without music education of any kind. Because of Curtis’s continuing involvement, the school has invested in a full-time music teacher and is committed to using the arts to accomplish its goals.
Mr. Imamura will also work with Project HOME to teach composition and songwriting to high school students at the Honickman Learning Center in North Philadelphia. His service is part of Curtis’s sustained activities with Project HOME, an organization that empowers individuals to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness through affordable housing, bringing music to a significant percentage of Center City’s homeless population.
Fellow Seula Lee (Violin ’18) teaches group violin classes using the Suzuki Method to students at William Cramp Elementary School in North Philadelphia, a project begun in 2016 by past fellow Shannon Lee (Violin ’16). She also works with Girard College, Philadelphia’s historic boarding school serving students from first through twelfth grade, all of whom attend on a full scholarship. Together Ms. Lee and the school will reintroduce a string program to elementary-level students.
The Community Artist Fellowship at Girard College is generously supported by Wells Fargo.