Established in 1990 and unique in the U.S., Monsanto’s Artists-in-Training Program sets out to identify, coach and encourage talented students from high schools across the St. Louis area with weekly voice lessons by opera professionals at one of the four area universities. The program also offers master classes with visiting artists, awards more than $25,000 annually in scholarships, and provides college guidance to high school graduates. By the end of this year more than 180 students will have completed the program; scholarship awards totaling more than $364,000 have been presented to current students and to “alumni” who continue vocal studies in college. The program was one of 10 in the nation to be recognized by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities with the “Coming Up Taller” Award for success in serving at-risk youth.
The ultimate goal of AIT is to identify students who will go on to further music study and perhaps a professional singing career, but the program has other goals as well, such as enhancing self-esteem, finding new means of expression, learning to set rigorous achievement standards and rewarding disciplined commitment.
Visiting artists have included: Martina Arroyo, Christine Brewer, Jane Bunnel, Cynthia Clarey, Vinson Cole, Denyce Graves, Erie Mills, George Shirley, Steve Smith, Sylvia McNair and Barbara Smith Conrad. Students attend events at venues including Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, the St. Louis Black Repertory Theatre, the St. Louis Repertory Theater and more.
2013-14 AIT auditions will take place at the Sally S. Levy Opera Center (210 Hazel Ave, 63119 in Webster Groves) on the following dates:
Thursday, September 19, 2013, 3-6pm
Saturday, September 21, 2013, 1-4pm
Special thanks to lead sponsor Monsanto Fund.