Mission Statement: National Opera House will restore and maintain the site of the National Negro Opera Company in order to teach culture through arts and music to the youth of the community.
 



USAcademy of Steelpan Music



The Academy will be the premier location in America for training and nurturing young people in the art of steelpan music. The students will acquire a discipline in performance, composition and production. The Academy is structured for aspiring future professional performers as well as for any young person lacking fundamental musical skills and ability. The Academy will develop the musical aptitude of the students and ensure a comprehensive learning experience. Although the Academy will use the steelpan as the instrument or "tool" for the students to be musically expressive, the method of teaching will start in the fundamentals of audiation. The steelpan is the perfect instrument for teaching because it was developed through audiation by children in the British Caribbean.


The National Opera House will be utilized as a School for Steelpan Performance. As such, it will hold a unique position of importance in the history of modern music. It will be the first school of its kind in the Pittsburgh. The major focus of the school will be to educate youth in steelpan performance while creating a performance orchestra. To achieve this focus, four services will be integrated in the form of the Pittsburgh Steel Orchestra, a Music Studio, Tea Room and Rental Space.


The Rhyme and Release program is another extremely significant opportunity for participants that will be offered in conjunction with the Music Studio. The goal of Rhyme and Release is to enable students to express and manage their emotions.


Each of these services will be offered to young community members based upon a set tuition cost. Participating youth that qualify, will receive financial assistance through means of a scholarship program. Funds for scholarships will be generated through concerts, tours, and corporate partnerships. These scholarships will add an incentive for participants to stay in school and increase their educational efforts.


Each of the services is discussed below. Some of them will also be made available to the community for reasonable fees which will be used to assist in the continuation of the Opera House.


Pittsburgh Steel Orchestra


The School for Steelpan Performance will be the focal point of the National Opera House and will create a new sound of steel for the Pittsburgh region. Participants will learn to play the steelpan and gain an understanding of music, rhythm and culture. This group of performers will collectively be called the Pittsburgh Steel Orchestra. The orchestra will create, perform and record musical compositions using steelpan instruments as an ongoing part of the program. Focus will be placed not only on the students performing as a group, but also as individual professional steelpan performers.


The steelpan, or pan, is a pitched musical instrument made from 55-gallon steel drums that are pounded, reshaped and finely tuned into sophisticated acoustic instruments. Using a combination of pitched steelpan instruments, entire musical compositions are performed without the addition of other musical instruments. The steelpan holds a significant place in history as being the only new acoustic musical instrument invented and accepted worldwide in the twentieth century. This fact presents an additional historic influence for the students, as they personally become a part of that history as it forms. The versatility and unique features of the steelpan have been shown to appeal to young musicians worldwide.


Children in the British Caribbean island nation of Trinidad and Tobago invented the first steelpans in the 1930's. They had a desire to play the classical music that they heard but were too poor to afford the instruments. Their determination led them to improvise by using pots, pans, biscuit tins and paint cans to beat on to play a rhythm. Over time, their non-pitched instruments evolved into ones with just a few notes, and eventually to the reconstructed 55-gallon oil barrels with the entire chromatic scale. This allowed the players to create music in any key with all the notes. The National Opera House recognizes the very appropriate correlation between this instrument that was created by talented and inventive children with very limited resources and the fact that it will be used to encourage and educate today's children who also live their lives with numerous limitations. Because the children of Trinidad and Tobago used what little they had to achieve amazing goals, a new venture in musical history was born. The Opera House is inspired by this and works towards seeing the children of Homewood, Lincoln, Lemington, Larimer, and East Liberty achieve results that are just as outstanding.


The Steel Orchestra will start with ten steelpans and grow to approximately thirty instruments over a period of three years. The orchestra will be comprised of approximately forty community youth members. The school will teach its students self-discipline and how to work with others through the creation and recording of steelpan music and through the art of performing.


The Pittsburgh Steel Orchestra will establish a concert series that will begin in Pittsburgh and gradually continue around the United States. Possibilities also exist to eventually perform internationally. Touring will give members the opportunity to travel and learn about their country, and even the entire world, through first hand experience. Students will provide educational and benefit concerts and produce professional recordings in the Music Studio of the Opera House.