Academy Of Vocal Arts

Giving voice to opera's future

aka AVA   |   Philadelphia, PA   |  http://www.avaopera.org

Mission

The mission of the Academy of Vocal Arts is to be the world's premier institution for training young artists as international opera singers. Through rigorous instruction and coaching, and by presentations of Resident Artists from around the world in fully staged professional opera productions, as well as concerts, oratorios, public programs, The Academy will train artists with the highest potential for career success while enriching lives in Philadelphia and beyond.

Ruling year info

1938

President and Artistic Director

Mr. K. James McDowell

Main address

1920 Spruce St

Philadelphia, PA 19103 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

23-1352001

NTEE code info

Other Art, Culture, Humanities Organizations/Services N.E.C. (A99)

Performing Arts Schools (A6E)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Opera is a highly demanding art form that requires singers who can sustain performances up to 4 hours in an evening, singing (unamplified) over a full orchestra of 100 pieces. Furthermore, their artistry must convey the composer's and librettist's intentions forward through artful singing as well as convincing stage characterization. This requires highly skilled singers with a rigorous work ethic and extraordinary technique.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Scholarship/fellowship program

The Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA) provides tuition-free vocal and opera training to approximately 27 resident artists per year, who have the potential for international stature, in an intensive four-year program which includes voice lessons, vocal coaching, acting, stage combat, repertoire, languages, movement, opera history and other related subjects necessary for an operatic career. Although the Academy does not offer housing, it has established a fellowship or stipend program to help resident artists pay for their living expenses while studying at AVA.

Population(s) Served

The Academy of Vocal Arts will produce four fully staged operas in 2018-2019.  Operas will be performed in the original languages and directed by prominent guest stage directors, as follows:  Puccini's Suor Angelica and Le Villi (in Italian), Dworak's Rusalka (in Czech), Mozart's Cosi fan tutte (in Italian), and Gounod's Romeo et Juliette. 

Additional production performances include Jubilate, a concert of oratorio and sacred music performed with full orchestra in three area churches, and the Bel Canto Competition, performed at the Kimmel Center.

Population(s) Served

The Academy's acclaimed Opera Outreach program of educational enrichment offers up close and personal experience with opera and its component art forms to over 1,000 middle and high school students.  Workshops are conducted in the classroom with live singing of excerpts, and then classes are bused to fully staged (but somewhat abridged) performances of the operas that are studied in advance.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Accreditations

National Association of Schools of Music - Accreditation 2004

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

AVA's primary goal continues to be the training of the next generation of great opera singers.

A secondary goal is bringing excellent opera productions and vocal concerts to the Greater Philadelphia community at affordable prices.

Thirdly, AVA seeks to inculcate a love of opera and classical arts in the next generation of performing arts enthusiasts, through outreach programs in area middle and high schools.

AVA's program of full immersion opera is unique among training organizations. Each AVA resident artist will receive highly individualized training in voice, vocal repertoire, opera history, stage movement, acting, stage combat and dance, French, Italian, German language and Russian diction. Each resident artist will be cast in at least one major role in an opera during the AVA Opera Theatre season. Performances are intended to reinforce the training received in the studio and provide a solid repertoire within the standard repertory of today's opera.

Operas are chosen first to provide the training needed by the resident artists. But AVA also seeks to present a variety of operas that will appeal to its loyal audiences and presents its operas in several locations and at ticket prices less than half that o regional opera houses. AVA audiences have come to expect highly professional productions featuring dynamic younger singers, many of whom will shortly appear with opera houses the world over.

AVA's Opera Outreach program will offer study guides and workshops for a broad mix of middle and high schools, culminating in field trips to the theater to attend an AVA opera. Participating classes will have the opportunity to interact with AVA's resident artists and ask questions about opera, the artists' background, and the way they approach learning a role. This process demystifies the experience of opera and offers first time opera goers the opportunity to identify with the performers, who are themselves only a few years removed from high school. In this way AVA seeks to build audiences for the future of opera--audiences who will appreciate and support the artists trained at the Academy.

The Academy has assembled a superb faculty of professional performers, who produce consummate thinking artists--not "cookie cutter" singers. AVA wants to bring out the individual persona in each artist and help them develop their own artistic voice. Led by Maestro Christofer Macatsoris, who himself trained with some of the great conductors of the 20th century (Serafin, Sawallisch, Rudolph), AVA's faculty invests itself in hours of pain-staking coaching to bring out the best in each AVA singing artist.

AVA has achieved unprecedented success, especially in recent years, in graduating artists who achieve almost instantaneous success as major opera stars. Angela Meade, Stephen Costello, and Ailyn Perez, in particular, enjoyed immediate success and acclaim within months of graduating from AVA. Others have achieved similar success over the course of just a few years: Latonia Moore, Bryan Hymel, Michael Fabiano, Corinne Winters.

Financially, AVA continues to work to grow its endowment to the point where it has reserves to weather recessions like the 2008 great recession. To this point AVA has completed a three-year capital and endowment campaign which has added $6 million to its current $35+ million endowment.

Financials

Academy Of Vocal Arts
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Academy Of Vocal Arts

Board of directors
as of 4/29/2019
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Harold Pitcairn

Pitcairn

Term: 2015 - 2018

Harold F. (Rick) Pitcairn

Pitcairn Financial Group

P. Jeffrey Warden

The Rose Group

Martha Hurt

Archer and Greiner

Randolph Apgar

Health Services

Kay Bossone

Drexel University, Nesbitt School of Design

Kristin Davidson

Center City Residents Association

Charlotte Watts

No Affiliation

Barbara Donnelly Bentivoglio

Donnelly Marketing

Nancy Fabiola Herrera

Metropolitan Opera

Martin Janowiecki

PricewaterhouseCoopers

Susan Kane

Ret. Merrill Lynch

Lucinda Landreth

Delaware Fund

Joseph McGuire

Attorney at Law

Corey Smith

RBC Dain Rauscher

Ann Stephenson

Bucks County Opera Association

Sandy Leopold

no affiliation

Scott Richard

Wharton School

Walter Strine

Walter M. Strine Foundation

Romeo Abella

No Affiliation

Stephen Costello

Metropolitan Opera

John Nyheim

Wellington Fund/Vanguard, Ret.

Thomas O'Rourke

Philadelphia National Bank/CoreStates, Ret.

Richard Troxell

Paris Opera

Leon Levy

Leon L. Levy Associates

Peter Gould

University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Kenneth Ahl

Archer and Greiner

Gail Howard

Liberty Business Strategies, Ltd.

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No