Monday, June 8, 2015

In 2003, inspired by the construction of the new Troy Community Center, which they could see from their rehearsal space, the Special Performing Arts Club wrote and composed their fourth annual opera on the history of Troy. The choral work was written and performed by the group of adults, ages 20 to 60, with developmental disabilities. The opera began the history of Troy as pioneers built the area’s first roads.

Karen DiChiera, Director of Community Programs at the Michigan Opera Theatre and of Learning at the Opera, and Susan Gregory, a music therapist, worked with the group, from creation of the concept, through the performance of the work. They stressed that they were merely guides, however, and the club members did the writing and composing. DiChiera commented that “You can find composers… in any room. You just have to give them a way to show themselves.”

In previous years, the group had written operas themed on foreign countries, Detroit’s 300th anniversary, and Mardi Gras. The group was sponsored by the Italian Study Group of Troy, in association with the City’s Adaptive Recreation program. Though the Special Performing Arts Club rehearsed in the Community Center that inspired them, they performed their opera at Club Venetian in Madison Heights.

Photo: Karen DiChiera

To commemorate the City of Troy’s 60th Anniversary in 2015, we will publish a different story each day that highlights a person, discovery, or event that occurred locally, regionally, nationally, or even globally between 1955 and 2015 and that helped shape our lives and our community. We will try to post stories on important anniversary dates, but we also realize that dates are less critical than content and context. We will include the facts related to controversial stories, allowing our readers to form their own opinions. We invite you to read and comment on the stories. Your suggestions for topics are also welcome and can be posted on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/TroyHistoricVillage. You can also email stories or ideas to the 365 Story Editor at ed@thvmail.org.

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