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In the Wings

Backstage glimpses with Boston Lyric Opera

After Hours at BLO - Thoughts from a singer, opera lover, and development geek

May 17, 2012 12:55:00 PM
By BLO Staff

Howdy!
My name
is Ceceilia Allwein, and I work at BLO. My official title is Development
Coordinator, which means that I manage direct mail, telefund, digital outreach,
print advertising and pretty much any other communications that come out of
development in service of the annual fund. It’s a super creative job, and I
love it! 
At the
end of my day at BLO, I don’t go home though.

I hop on
my bike, go to a practice room and start singing.
To be
absolutely clear, I don’t work at BLO in an artistic capacity, and I don’t make
my living as a singer. I was trained as a singer
(and music theory!) though and still make my way onto stages about town every
now and then.
Five
years ago I had no idea I would end up working in development. What I learned
over time, however, was that I care deeply about people’s relationship to music
and the role that financial support plays in that relationship.
Since
joining BLO I have found that my development work and after hours musical
activity inform each other, and I would love to share with you a few intriguing
things that I’ve learned about my relationship to BLO and opera in Boston. 
1. Taste Does Not Equal Support
My musical
tastes are pretty far out. Most of the time when I sing I use electronics,
noise or extended vocal techniques. This summer I’ll be a vocal interpreter at
the Internationales
Musikinstitut Darmstadt
in Germany
for a few weeks. The definition of opera in Darmstadt would fall way outside most people’s realm of musical decency, but to my taste
those are some righteous times just waiting to happen! 
But I also
want to live in a community where I can hunker down in a theater seat on any
given weekend and bathe in a lush wall of vocal and orchestral sounds.
Butterfly, I’m
looking at you!
Regardless
of whether I’m a die hard fan of every single opera that’s made the stage (I’m
not), I want to experience the breadth of the genre’s influence in musical
discourse. I support BLO financially because Boston’s rich musical
culture benefits from opera.  
2. Music education is the gift of
transferable skills
Through
BLO’s Music! Words! Opera! curriculum, students get the
opportunity to write an opera—music and libretto—right in their own classroom,
and teachers learn how to incorporate opera, which is to say, musical practice,
into their teaching. 
As a
product of music education similar to Music!
Words! Opera
! myself—and a conservatory trained, Gen Y, digital native—I can
attest to the job skills that music education offers: I have executed complex
tasks on stage since I was an itty bitty kid, become comfortable expressing
myself verbally in public on abstract topics, and developed a huge autodidactic
streak from years of self-directed practice. My music education has given me a
significant advantage.
Supporting
music education at BLO is not only about cultural
appreciation, developing new audiences, or spending Saturdays in prestigious
pre-college programs. It is also about giving kids the opportunity to learn
transferable skills right in their own classrooms that will serve them for
their entire lives.
3. It takes both artistic and
financial context to cultivate artistry
I give performances
as a non-vocational singer, because it puts the expression and vulnerability
that professional artists give in every performance into context. I also founded a
contemporary music ensemble
a few years ago, because I wanted to know
first-hand what it was like to build an organization from the bottom up. (Conclusion:
It’s hard. Very hard.)
Now that
I work at BLO I do considerably fewer performing projects, but the experience continues
to renew my appreciation for the leadership at BLO. I am blown away by the quality
of opera and the budget on which it is produced. Go Esther, John, David, Nick and Dan!
It boils
down to this: Financial
gifts provide a framework for material possibility
--a framework that
impacts the strength of opera’s voice in Boston, the exposure to art and skills
that kids get through music education, and the artistic vision of BLO’s
leadership.
I’ve been
on a journey to really explore these three points for the past few years, and I
feel stronger than ever about the importance of supporting BLO. Not to mention
the fact that giving just feels good. (Don’t believe me? Read this.)
I invite you to make a direct
impact on BLO’s material possibility by donating now. If you donate before June
30, you will have double the impact through the 35th
Anniversary Challenge
matching grant as well.  
And! If
you’d like to check out the musical stylings of an avocational classical singer,
you can join me at my next concert TONIGHT!  
Thursday, May 17, 2012, 8pm
New England Conservatory
Williams Hall
Free
I would
love to meet you in person and chat about how you can be a part of the amazing
things that BLO has planned!
Boston Opera Calendar

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