The Richard Wagner Society of the Upper Midwest

Contact Us

2020-21 Music in Action Program

Our inaugural Music in Action program, held in 2020-21, is now complete. Here is a summary of the program, which resulted in two fine performances. Based on the success of the 2020-21 program, we will have an expanded Music in Action program in 2021-22. Read more about the 2021-22 program here.

Program Objective

The objective of the 2020-21 Music in Action program was “to provide financial support for local musicians while addressing the greater need for hope, healing, and community exposed by the killing of George Floyd.” The program provided musicians with the funds needed to create pre-recorded vocal performances.

Performances and Results

Performances were premiered online with video hosting provided by RWSUM. You can view these premiere and talkback sessions on the RWSUM YouTube channel.

Our first performance, featuring mezzo-soprano Victoria Vargas and pianist Eric McEnany, premiered March 12, 2021.  Victoria is a local mezzo-soprano and a frequent performer with the Minnesota Opera. She identifies as Hispanic, female, and queer. Victoria's recital featured female, GLBTQIA+ and Hispanic composers including Ricky Ian Gordon, Paola Prestini, Kristian S. Rodriguez, and Kala Pierson. These selections express various aspects of Victoria's individuality, as well as her connections to other members of these communities. In addition to premiering the recital via RWSUM's Music in Action program, Victoria gifted her recital to OutFront Minnesota to benefit fundraising efforts for their youth group.

Our second performance, featuring baritone Mark Billy, soprano Alexandra Razskazoff, and pianist Lara Bolton, premiered May 14, 2021. Mark is a Twin Cities-based baritone. He, too, has often performed with the Minnesota Opera. Mark identifies as a Native person of color (Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma) and a member of the LGBTQ+ community. According to Mark, "Operatic plots are prevalent with the brutality of anger and unaddressed mental health crises, which are mirrored in our current news and events." He used his grant funds to create a recital of "pieces of music of true (and largely untold) stories of the brutality against Native and LGBTQ+ people." His selections will include a variety of appropriate opera arias and Choctaw hymns which depict hope and healing.

By the following measures, Music in Action was a great success:

  • Our grant recipients and their collaborators produced exceptional, innovative, and very personally relevant musical performances.
  • The record-setting online audiences who attended the premiere and talkback events expressed their satisfaction with our artists' performances and their gratitude for the Music in Action program.
  • Support for continuing the program in 2021-22 greatly exceeded our expectations: Over 70% were either “likely” or “very likely” to contribute to a 2021-22 Music in Action grant fund to support local musicians as we emerge from the pandemic.

Copyright © 2019-21 The Richard Wagner Society of the Upper Midwest. All rights reserved.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software