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Kids Around the Bay

September 8, 2011


Henry Phipps — The Youngest Soldier

On Sept. 10, and dates following, 12-year-old Henry Phipps from Woodside, CA will make his parents and Joyce Keil, his director in the Ragazzi Boys Chorus, very proud. Phipps makes his San Francisco Opera debut in the world premiere of Christopher Theofanidis’ Heart of a Soldier. He is cast as the protagonist Cyril as a boy. Says Phipps about the role: “It’s about seven minutes long worth of singing dialogue and at one point I sing a duet with Thomas Hampson. My character is supposed to be excited, and it’s not hard to be when you’re singing a duet with Thomas Hampson — he’s amazing! I play the character Rick at an important time his life, when his personality is developing and he’s learning about discipline and bravery.”

Phipps has been working hard, both in rehearsals and with coaches who can teach him how to project his voice in the large hall. All of which has taken a bit of bravery on his part as well. “At first it was a little weird to sing with all of these good guys but I got to know them during our breaks,” he explains. “That really helps since in the scene they are my friends and it’s very emotional to see them march away to war.”

A member of the Ragazzi Boys Chorus for six years, Phipps pulled together his audition with the help of Keil and other teachers at summer choir camp this year. “They gave me private lessons, and even drove us down to San Francisco for the auditions. I love to sing with Ragazzi. I’ve learned choral singing, discipline and that hard work pays off. I never would have gotten this role without that training, and I’m going to stick with them to the end,” he says enthusiastically. Bitten by the opera bug, Phipps can’t wait for the bright lights of opening night and is already looking ahead to his next opportunity.

See more Heart of a Soldier event information.

Cal Performances Builds First Stage for Families

Prominent East Bay Presenter, Cal Performances, will expand art offerings for young people with the launch of a new initiative this season, First Stage for Families. Special one-hour presentations of world music, dance, puppetry, story-telling and other genres will entertain kids and grownups alike in the 700 seat Wheeler Hall. The series is a gateway to other “Family Fare” events on the main stage. First off, enjoy the Cashore Marionettes in Simple Gifts, poignant scenes from every-day life set to music by Vivaldi, Strauss, Beethoven and Copland (Oct. 23). Next, David Holt tells tales and accompanies himself on ten acoustic instruments in Songs and Stories of Appalachia (Feb. 12). Finally, Word for Word Performing Arts Company brings it closer to home with a presentation of Greg Sarris’ Stories from Sonoma Mountain; a play on indigenous people and landscapes of Northern California (May 6).

Take advantage of a free introduction to the wonderful work of Cal Performances and a host of Bay Area performing arts groups at Fall Free For All, Sept. 25.

Family Class at Community Music Center

San Francisco’s Community Music Center has long offered classes for pretty much everyone, and now that picture is complete with the introduction of Family Music, a new Saturday class for 0-3 year olds and their caregivers. Adults and children participate together in singing, rhythm activities, movement and musical play. CMC provides the percussion instruments for this fun musical bonding experience. Nicole Sumner, a proponent of play-based learning, improvisation at an early age, and multi-age group music making, leads Family Music. Her eclectic resume includes training in theater, both the Orff and Dalcroze early childhood methods, the viola da gamba and Chinese instruments too! She is also on faculty at several area elementary schools as well as USF and De Anza College. For more information or to register, please visit

Lisa Petrie is a writer and specialist in marketing and public relations for arts and education organizations. She earned a DMA in flute performance from SUNY, Stony Brook, and is the mother of two musical kids. Lisa was the Content Manager for the Kids and Families section of San Francisco Classical Voice during 2011.