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Michigan Opera Theatre founder David DiChiera helps kick off new semester of SOAR Macomb program at Macomb Community College

– Friday, October 16, 2015 12:00AM

A two-hour “class” led by Michigan Opera Theatre (MOT) founder and artistic director David DiChiera – with musical help from three MOT performers – helped kick off the nearly sold-out fall semester of non-credit courses offered by the Society of Active Retirees (SOAR) Macomb, a lifelong learning program offered by Macomb Community College.

An Afternoon of Opera with Dr. David DiChiera, held Monday, Oct. 12, at the Lorenzo Cultural Center on the college's Center Campus in Clinton Township, also featured mezzo soprano Raehann Bryce-Davis, soprano Angela Theis and pianist Gordon Schermer, all resident artists of the MOT Studio program. They presented selections from several operas including The Tender Land by Aaron Copeland, which in March 2016 will be the second MOT and Macomb Center for the Performing Arts co-production since launching a groundbreaking partnership last year. 

“We want to constantly bring our art form to other communities and to have a wonderful relationship with Macomb is a great pleasure,” DiChiera said.  “…We want to come to you, and we want you to come to us, and that’s the kind of relationship we’re excited about.”

Launched in fall 2014, SOAR Macomb offers non-credit courses taught by current and former faculty of Macomb Community College and other colleges in the region, as well as local professionals passionate about sharing their areas of expertise.  In the case of DiChiera – who founded MOT in 1971 after serving as professor and ultimately chairman of music at Oakland University – his passion led to a lifetime of professional and artistic achievements.  This included the grand opening of the Detroit Opera House in 1996, making MOT one of only a handful of American opera companies to own its home.  In 2010, DiChiera received the National Endowment for the Arts’ Opera Honors Award, the nation’s highest award for lifetime achievement in opera and he was named Kresge Eminent Artist by The Kresge Foundation in 2013.

While SOAR Macomb was designed with retirees in mind, membership is open to anyone committed to lifelong learning.  The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan has supported the program through a two-year, $60,000 grant.  As a result, SOAR Macomb is able to assess only a nominal membership fee of $50 for program participation that allows individuals to take up to 10 courses – space permitting – during the semester. Most courses are held at the Macomb University Center on the college’s Center Campus at 44575 Garfield Road in Clinton Township.  

“SOAR Macomb was created to engage learners of all ages,” said Eric Kerchner, the college’s director of cultural affairs and community engagement. “It offers another meaningful option for learning while leveraging Macomb Community College’s strengths in new ways that provide tangible value to our community.”

Only a few courses remain unfilled for the fall 2015 semester, which runs through Nov. 20. The spring 2016 semester is scheduled for April 11 through May 20. To sign up to receive information about the spring semester, call 586.286.2106 or email SoarMacomb@macomb.edu. More information about the program is available at www.macomb.edu/soar.

SOAR Macomb is affiliated with Wayne State University and with the Elderhostel Institute Network.  

About Macomb Community College

Macomb Community College (www.macomb.edu) is one of the nation’s leading community colleges, providing learning experiences to nearly 48,000 students annually. Macomb nationally ranks in the top two percent in the number of associate degrees awarded by community colleges and is the largest grantor of associate degrees in Michigan. The college’s comprehensive educational programming includes pre-collegiate experiences, university transfer and career preparation programs, bachelor degree completion and graduate degree programs, workforce training, professional education and certification, and continuing education and enrichment opportunities.

Media Contact: James Melton, meltonj@macomb.edu, 586.445.7271

Angela Theis and David DiChiera

Soprano Angela Theis and  David DiChiera, founder and artistic  director of the Michigan
Opera Theatre, at An Afternoon of Opera with Dr. David DiChiera, held at the Lorenzo
Cultural Center on Oct. 12. The event was part of the SOAR Macomb series of non-credit
courses. (Photo provided by Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan)