• December 15, 2019

Second graders treated to opera of ‘The Three Little Pigs’ - Odessa American: ECISD

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Second graders treated to opera of ‘The Three Little Pigs’

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  • Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

    Surprised to find a wolf played by Johnathan Ortega lurking behind their seats, Zavala students 9-year-old Johnathan Blanco, and 7-year-olds Baleria Hernandez, Jose Torres, and Abigail Mirelas jump back and scream when the wolf lets out a growl as it continues its way to the stage. UTPB's Vocal Ensemble performed a version of the Three Little Pigs for close to 1,300 ECISD 2nd grade students at First United Methodist Church Thursday afternoon.

Posted: Thursday, November 14, 2019 3:55 pm

More than 1,000 Ector County ISD second graders converged on First United Methodist Church Thursday for a performance of “The Three Little Pigs,” a children’s opera performed by the University of Texas Permian Basin Vocal Ensemble.

The opera is a joint production of First United Methodist Church and UTPB. Produced by adjunct professor of voice and director of traditional music at First UMC David Corman, it is based on the music of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” with words by Corman.

The opera had a cast of 20, Corman said.

Aaron Hawley, ECISD executive director of fine arts, said about 1,300 students attended Thursday and the same number were expected Friday.

Abigail Vinson, a junior music major at UTPB, was one of the pigs in the production. This is her first time in theater.

“It’s so exciting. I was scared coming into this because I’d never done it before, but it’s tremendously exciting to get to work with all these talented classmates and teachers in the program,” Vinson said.

She added that second graders are the most exciting audience.

“They love getting to interact with the story and they’re fantastic,” Vinson said.

Jacob Corman, a junior music education major at UTPB, said this is his third time in the opera, but his second time with UTPB.

“My favorite thing about being part of this is performing for kids because the kids are always so into it and they always are so excited,” Corman said.

He added that there is an all-new scene this year with the Romeo wolf and the Juliet pig and a largely new cast.

Autumn Zimmerman, a first year master’s student in history at UTPB, was wearing a pair of pink boxing gloves.

“In the beginning, it’s supposed to be the Montagues vs. the Capulets and we model it off of ‘West Side Story,’ so I’m one of the fighter pigs,” Zimmerman said.

She said she has loved being part of the production. Rehearsals started at the end of August-beginning of September.

“It’s incredible to be a part of something that has such an impact on so many people in the community,” Zimmerman said.

Hawley said a big aspect of having the students attend the production is that everybody comes from different backgrounds.

“… Over the course of the different years, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, we allow them, hopefully, to experience fine arts in a way that they might not from their normal if they did not have this opportunity. So (in) third grade, they go to the art museum. I know I didn’t go to an art museum as a child, so this opens their eyes to different possibilities. In this case, it’s music and it’s theater. …,” Hawley said.

This is one way the fine arts can enrich children’s lives.

Shari Riley, fine arts specialist for elementary in ECISD, said this is important for the students to see fine arts in the community. And in this production, they see UTPB perform in a theatrical setting.

“… It’s important to expose them to the fine arts that exist beyond their school walls. David Corman has adapted the story of ‘The Three Little Pigs’ to the music of Mozart, and so it’s appropriate for second grade. They understand the story but their exposure to the quality of music that the UTPB students are doing is a vital part of their music education,” Riley said.

Whittney Neemar, a second grade teacher at Blackshear Elementary Magnet, said they bring students every year.

“I love it. It’s so exciting. We use ‘Three Little Pigs’ in our curriculum, so to actually come see it live, hear for themselves the music, the beats, participate, it’s just amazing. We love coming and I love bringing them every single year,” Neemar said.

She noted that it is fun, but also an educational experience.

“A lot of times nowadays kids are used to watching something on a screen and this (is) first hand. They get to witness, hear, feel and smell the entire environment so it really brings it to life vs. just reading the book (or) maybe just watching the video. It gives them a first-hand experience on the story, and then of course, we always go back and say OK what character traits did they have and really connect it back to everything that we do in reading,” Neemar said.

Seven-year-old Blackshear second-grader Analee Mata gave it her seal of approval.

“It was good,” Mata said.

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