Opera and Arts Sanctuary
Classical & hip-hop in schools
Hip H'opera is a collaborative project between Opera Philadelphia and Art Sanctuary that explores the aesthetics of classical music, hip-hop, and other art forms to inspire and empower Philadelphia’s youth.
The program began in 2007 when poems by students in Art Sanctuary's North Stars after-school program were set to music by classically trained composers. The resulting song cycle was performed by Opera Philadelphia’s artists to sold-out audiences at both the Church of the Advocate and Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. At each performance, the North Stars students read their poems alongside the professional musical performers.
Beginning in 2012, a new, multi-year program began at several Philadelphia high schools through which students engaged in a journey of self-discovery, self-reflection, and self-expression. They engaged in writing prompts through which they shared their stories of family, struggle, neighborhood, and future dreams.
In subsequent years, Hip H’opera students continued to explore these inaugural themes through dance, music, memoir and journal writing, fine art, photography, and other art forms.
As students began to learn more about themselves, they also learned about each other, creating a supportive and nurturing community in a safe environment where they were free to express themselves in any way they wanted. Some shared poems of hope while others shared original songs of love, and others explored their cultural heritage through dance.
The 2012 writings were shared with composer Daniel Bernard Roumain and spoken word artist and dancer/choreographer Marc Bamuthi Joseph, who were brought on to write the score and libretto, respectively, of a new opera, We Shall Not Be Moved, and were inspired by their engagement with the students.
Now in its final year, Hip H’opera students are exploring themes and historic events relative to the opera We Shall Not Be Moved by creating a series of oral histories with community members who were affected by those events. Students will also take part in workshops and events surrounding the opera.
The Hip H’opera Program exposes students to a variety of artistic disciplines and creates unique opportunities for interactive learning.
It aspires to be a model for schools across the country by bridging artistic genres, using the power of musical storytelling to empower students, and augmenting the standard curriculum.
Continue to visit this page for future updates on Hip H’opera. For more information about Hip H'opera, call 215.893.5927.
Hip H’opera is made possible with support from The John S. And James L. Knight Foundation and the Wyncote Foundation.