Friday, August 26, 2011


Sarasota, FL – Entering its 28th year, the Sarasota Youth Opera program, the most comprehensive program of its kind in the United States, is now open for enrollment for the 2011-2012 Season for new and returning young singers ages 8 – 18. Enrollment night for returning singers will happen on Tuesday, August 30th from 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm and Enrollment Night for new singers will happen on Thursday, September 1st from 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm, both at the Sarasota Opera House. Rehearsals will begin the following week.

During the Fall and Winter season, the Sarasota Youth Opera will perform in outreach concerts throughout the community as well as participate in a special concert with the Sarasota Opera Apprentice Artists on March 10, 2012. In addition, Youth Opera members will be eligible to audition for the children’s chorus in Sarasota Opera’s Winter Festival productions of Georges Bizet’s Carmen and Giuseppe Verdi’s Otello. This season promises to be particularly exciting as Sarasota Opera welcomes the new Youth Opera and Outreach Coordinator, Ben Plocher, and the new Youth Opera Music Director, Jesse Martins, in addition to preparations for a world premiere piece presented by the Sarasota Youth Opera in the fall of 2012.

Ben Plocher, who will serve as the Youth Opera and Outreach Coordinator, holds a Bachelor of Music with honors in Vocal Performance from Butler University in addition to a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from Southern Methodist University. His experience working as the Operations Manager for the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, a statewide choral organization consisting of 1,700 young singers in 15 different ensembles, immediately distinguished him as a well qualified candidate for the position. While at the Indianapolis Children’s Chorus, his primary responsibilities included community outreach, programming, advertising and the development of educational partnerships. "Sarasota Opera's commitment to educational outreach and programming provides invaluable access to the arts for the next generation of opera performers and enthusiasts”, says Mr. Plocher. “I am truly honored to be able to work alongside the Sarasota Opera team towards the fulfillment of such an auspicious, and important, mission."

Jesse Martins will also be joining the Youth Opera staff as the Youth Opera Music Director. Mr. Martins, originally from Brazil, most recently completed his Master of Arts in Collaborative Piano from Mansfield University in Mansfield, PA. Prior to that, he held the position of Assistant Music Director, Program Manager and Coach with Opera Factory in Auckland, New Zealand where his one of his primary responsibilities was the management of the Youth Program in addition to working with such noted conductors and singers such as Sir Andrew Davis, Wyn Davis, Emmanuel Joel-Hornak and soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. "I feel very humbled and excited for my new position with Sarasota Opera”, says Martins. “I'm thrilled to work with Youth Opera again and can't wait to start.” In addition to his degree from Mansfield University, Martins holds a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Enrollment Night is a fun opportunity for kids and families to meet the music director and program coordinator one-on-one, take a tour of the Opera House, and learn music in a mini-rehearsal (singers do not have to prepare a song for this exercise) to help determine placement between the Youth Opera Chorus and the Preparatory Choir. There will also be a parents meeting to go over specifics of the program, payment schedules, and other information.

Sarasota Youth Opera accepts all levels of talent and provides vocal and acting training. Tuition is $150 per session and scholarships are available based on financial need. Tuition can be paid via check, credit card or the administration can work with you to create a payment plan. The Fall Session will begin in September and the Spring Session begins in early January and end in mid May.

To sign up for either of the enrollment night, call Ben Plocher at (941) 366-8450, ext. 249.

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