/ News / Curtis Institute of Music Premieres New Children’s Opera March 30–31

Curtis Institute of Music Premieres New Children’s Opera March 30–31

Folklore of Anansi the Spider presented as part of Family Concerts series at Girard College and Curtis

PHILADELPHIA—March 20, 2019—The Curtis Institute of Music’s popular Family Concerts series continues with a new children’s opera, Anansi and the Great Light, on Saturday, March 30 at 11 a.m. at Girard College and on Sunday, March 31 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. in Gould Rehearsal Hall at the Curtis Institute of Music. Each performance runs one hour and features singers and instrumentalists from Curtis and a children’s choir from Girard College.

Based on the classic fables of a beloved hero of West African folklore, Curtis singers present this premiere of Anansi and the Great Light, an opera created expressly for, and in many ways by, children. Through several workshops during the 2018–19 school year, composer and Curtis Community Artist Fellow Nicholas DiBerardino (’18) has gathered text and musical material from students at Girard College, a five-day boarding school in Philadelphia serving students in grades 1 through 12. He has refined this material into an hour-long, semi-staged opera that brings Anansi’s adventures to life. The story of Anansi, a shape-shifting character who triumphs over adversity thanks to his characteristic wit and cunning, will entrance all ages.

Prior to the performances on March 31 in Center City, Curtis musicians will present the program at Girard College on March 30 for the families of those students who contributed to the opera’s material, as well as a public audience. Girard College is one of several institutions in partnership with Curtis through the Community Artist Fellowship program, part of Curtis’s artist-citizen curriculum.

Tickets for both dates and locations cost $15 for adults and $12 for children, and are available through the Curtis Patron Services Office at (215) 893-7902 or Curtis.edu/Performances.

Read Mr. DiBerardino’s firsthand account of the creation process for Anansi and the Great Light at Curtis.edu/Overtones.

Awakening a sense of wonder in listeners ages 5 to 12, Curtis Family Concerts share music with young audiences through interactive, educational presentations. Performances take place in a friendly setting, uniting entertainment with exploration.

Composer Nicholas DiBerardino (Composition ’18) is a Community Artist Fellow at the Curtis Institute of Music. He also serves on the faculties of the Young Artist Summer Program and the Sphinx Performance Academy at Curtis Summerfest. Mr. DiBerardino previously worked as a teaching fellow and assistant at Yale University, the Yale School of Music, and the University of Oxford. He has served on the composition and theory faculty at Luzerne Music Center (N.Y.), where he was also composer in residence.

Mr. DiBerardino’s orchestral works have been performed by the American Composers Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, and the Minnesota Orchestra, among others. His chamber music works have been read and performed by such ensembles as the Zorá, Iris, and Brentano string quartets; arx duo; Sandbox Percussion, the Israeli Chamber Project; and members of the Horszowski Trio; and performers including Tony Arnold, Blair McMillen, Tara O’Connor, and Soovin Kim.

Mr. DiBerardino’s music has received recognition from ASCAP, the Music Teachers’ National Association, the National Federation of Music Clubs, the American Composers Forum, the Chamber Orchestra of New York; and the Greater Bridgeport, California, and Nashville symphonies, among other organizations. He was the winner of the Portland Chamber Music Festival Composers Competition, and has received the soundSCAPE Composition Prize and a Horizon Award from Connecticut’s Westport Arts Advisory Committee. His score for Scholastic’s film and audiobook adaptation of John Klassen’s This is Not My Hat received an AudioFile Earphones Award and was a finalist in the 2015 Audie Awards. Residencies and fellowships include those for the Intimacy of Creativity festival in Hong Kong, the Bennington Chamber Music Conference, the Avaloch Farm Music Institute, the Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival’s Young Composers Seminar, and Music from Angel Fire.

Mr. DiBerardino holds a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, master’s degrees from the University of Oxford and Yale University, and a post-baccalaureate diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music. Among his academic honors are a Rhodes Scholarship, the Edward T. Cone Memorial Prize, the John Lowell Osgood Memorial Prize, and the Frances E. Osborne Kellogg Memorial Prize.

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 Community Artist Fellowship at Girard College is generously supported by Wells Fargo. Learn more about the entire artist-citizen curriculum at Curtis.edu/Community.

The Curtis Institute of Music educates and trains exceptionally gifted young musicians to engage a local and global community through the highest level of artistry. One of the most selective schools in the United States, Curtis accepts four percent of applicants each year on average. A tuition-free policy ensures that talent and artistic promise are the only considerations for admission. With a small student body of about 175, Curtis provides each young musician with an education of unparalleled quality, distinguished by personalized attention from a celebrated faculty and a “learn by doing” philosophy. Curtis students hone their craft through than 200 orchestra, opera, and solo and chamber music offerings each year in Philadelphia and around the world.

Girard College is a boarding school for academically capable students, grades 1 through 12, from families with limited financial resources, each headed by a single parent or guardian. All Girard students receive full scholarships to take part in the school’s strong academic program, and to live safely on its enclosed 43-acre campus in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Girard’s mission is to prepare students for advanced education and life as informed, ethical, and productive citizens through a rigorous educational program that promotes intellectual, social, and emotional growth. Learn more at GirardCollege.edu.



Saturday, March 30 at 11 a.m.

Girard College, 2101 S. College Avenue, Philadelphia

Sunday, March 31 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Gould Rehearsal Hall, Curtis Institute of Music, 1616 Locust Street, Philadelphia


NICHOLAS DIBERARDINO  Anansi and the Great Light


Lindsey Reynolds, soprano
Sophia Maekawa, mezzo-soprano
Aaron Crouch, tenor
Curtis Chamber Ensemble
Yuwon Kim, conductor

with the Girard College Elementary School Choir
Paul Eaton, director


Tickets for both locations: $15 for adults and $12 for children sold by the Curtis Patron Services Office, Curtis.edu/Performances, or (215) 893-7902.


The Community Artist Fellowship at Girard College is generously supported by Wells Fargo.


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