One of my favorite things to do is musical education outreach. I love that I can go into schools and help children learn about incredibly important lessons via music. I often bring in a special song the character of Harlequin in the opera Ariadne auf Naxos sings to the title character. The song has an incredible amount of wisdom, truth, musicality, and beauty in only a minute and 30 seconds. I begin the class with asking the kids to raise their hands if they like being happy. After, I ask them to raise their hands if they like being sad. You can imagine that the kids usually all raise their hands on “happy” and none do on “sad.” I ask them why they don’t like being sad, and most say “because it takes away from happiness.” We then start a discussion on how one (happiness or sadness) cannot exist without the other. Explaining the joy of going “through” something vs staying in it, the value of perseverance, and the true definition of hope and bravery are just some of the incredible lessons learned in my outreach performances. It all comes together in this masterful song inside of an aria by Richard Strauss.
Richard Strauss: Lieben, Hassen, Hoffen, Zagen
author: Justin Austin
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Praised in Opera News as “a gentle actor and elegant musician” baritone Justin Austin joins the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Copland House, Mise-En-Scène Studios, Carnegie Hall, Bayerische Staatsoper, and the Munich Opera Festival for the 2018/19 season. Mr. Austin was most recently featured in the critically acclaimed production of Regina as “Cal” at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Justin is a NYFOS Emerging Artist program alum, and will return on the Mainstage with NYFOS in W. C. Handy & Birth of the Blues this fall.