Opera Philadelphia

Published21 Mar 2022

Resonant Philly brings accessibility, technology, and music together on Saturday, May 21, 2022

Join Opera Philadelphia, in partnership with Music: Not Impossible and Art-Reach, for a free, public event presented by PNC Arts Alive exploring the idea of resonance through history and sound

What if we were to reimagine the way people experienced music? This is the question at the heart of Resonant Philly, a new program from Opera Philadelphia in partnership with Music: Not Impossible and Art-Reach. The program is the culmination of nearly two years of work from the Opera Philadelphia Community Initiatives and Audience Development team to expand the company’s accessible offerings to people with disabilities and to foster relationships with people and organizations who hold space for this community.

The free, public event will take place on Saturday, May 21, at 10:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. at FringeArts in Philadelphia. More information on accessibility at FringeArts can be found by clicking this link to the FringeArts webpage on accessibility.

People wearing vests
CEO/Not Impossible Labs founder Mick Ebeling and Deaf Singer Mandy Harvey wearing Vibrotextile™ wear

“We are working towards becoming an inclusive organization where people feel welcomed and a sense of belonging that allows them to bring their full selves into the venue,” says Veronica Chapman-Smith, Vice President of Community Initiatives at Opera Philadelphia. “Creating the inaugural Resonant Philly event in partnership with Art-Reach, Music: Not Impossible, and other accessibility experts, we have grown as an organization and as individuals. Opera Philadelphia is looking towards a future where these partnerships will strengthen and inform the way we engage in community building.”

A relaxed performance planned in consultation with industry leader Dr. Roger IdeishiResonant Philly is designed to create a welcoming and comfortable arts experience for people with autism and other disabilities, incorporating Audio Description by Nicole Sardella and American Sign Language by Hands Up Productions. The event features operatic performances interpreted through both sound and Vibrotextile™ wearable technology developed by composer and inventor Daniel Belquer and Not Impossible Labs. Inspired by the Deaf community and utilizing vests, wristbands, and ankle bands to translate sound waves into vibrations on the skin, this wearable technology goes beyond accessibility to create a radically inclusive musical experience for all participants. 

"It is such an indescribable feeling to have created something that will enable other creators to be empowered with a tool that is absolutely unique and that will create an entire new layer of experience for society,” Belquer says.

Resonant Philly attendees can experience the Vibrotextile™ wearable technology while enjoying a film featuring a new work by Belquer, performed by the women of the Opera Philadelphia Chorus, that creates a rich and varied musical tapestry through both sound and vibration. The program will also feature screenings of Save the Boys and “Each Day I Rise, I Know” from Cycles of My Being by Philadelphia-based composer and Opera Philadelphia Composer in Residence Tyshawn Sorey. The screenings will showcase the Vibrotextile™ wearable technology while tracing the experience of being a Black man from the past, through the words of Philadelphia abolitionist, suffragist, and poet Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, to the present, through the words of poet Terrance Hayes featured in his book “American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin,” exploring the idea of resonance through history.

“Art-Reach is excited to partner with Opera Philadelphia and Music: Not Impossible for this groundbreaking introduction of Vibrotextile™ wearable technology to Philadelphia,” says Charlie Miller, Deputy Director of Art-Reach. “Resonant Philly secures Opera Philadelphia as a leader in arts accessibility.”

Resonant Philly is presented by PNC Arts Alive. Opera Philadelphia was one of a handful of recipients of this prestigious grant in the Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey area. For more information on PNC Arts Alive and the grant recipients, click on this link to the PNC Arts Alive webpage.

“We’ve long recognized just how vital the arts and cultural sector is to our community,” says Joe Meterchick, PNC regional president for Philadelphia, Delaware, and Southern New Jersey.  “The PNC team is once again excited to support the arts and cultural organizations in the Delaware Valley. The arts and culture strengthen the local economy and have the power to bring people together. As we look forward to resuming everyday activities, we invite our neighbors to join us and be a part of art.”

Registration for the free event is now open. Attendees will be able to opt into the use of Vibrotextile™ wearable technology (limited quantity available). To learn more about the event, click on this link to the Resonant Philly webpage.

Tyshawn Sorey
Composer Tyshawn Sorey conducts Cycles of My Being Credit: Dominic M. Mercier

Opera Philadelphia, the only American finalist for both the 2016 International Opera Award for Best Opera Company and the 2020 International Opera Award for Best Festival, is “the very model of a modern opera company” (Washington Post). Committed to developing opera for the 21st century, the company is recognized as “a hotbed of operatic innovation” (New York Times). For more information, visit operaphila.org.


PNC Arts Alive is a multi-year, multi-million-dollar grant initiative of the PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. Now in its thirteenth program year, PNC Arts Alive challenges visual and performing arts organizations to put forth their best, most original thinking in expanding audience participation and engagement. In 2021, some 40 arts organizations from across the Greater Philadelphia, Southern New Jersey, and Delaware region were selected to receive PNC Arts Alive program support – including several first-time grantees, through a newly expanded initiative to support smaller, community-based arts and cultural organizations. 


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