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Jonathan Walker-VanKuren: An Opera Star and Educator Shaping Musical Futures

LVC Music Theatre to Host Sensory-Friendly Performance

  • By Marquis Lupton

Aired; April 3rd, 2024.

Renowned African American tenor and educator Jonathan Walker-VanKuren continues to leave an indelible mark on the world of music, both on stage and in the classroom. With a diverse repertoire spanning jazz, musical theatre, art song, and opera, Walker-VanKuren has captivated audiences with his powerful voice and versatile performances.

Currently serving as Assistant Professor of Voice and Artist Teacher of Studio Voice and Music Theatre at Lebanon Valley College, Walker-VanKuren balances his teaching duties with a busy schedule of recitals and operatic performances. His influence extends far beyond the college walls, as evidenced by the success of his students who have gone on to pursue music at prestigious institutions such as Texas A&M, Michigan State University, and Belmont University.

Recent highlights from Walker-VanKuren’s performing career include his roles as Thamar in Opera Southwest’s revival production of “Ali Baba,” as well as captivating portrayals of the Witch in “Hansel and Gretel,” Don Jose in “La tragédie de Carmen,” Fenton in “Falstaff,” Nelson in “Porgy and Bess,” and Beppe in “Il Pagliacci.” And in a testament to Lebanon Valley College’s commitment to inclusivity and accessibility, the Music Theatre department is set to host a sensory-friendly performance of “Tuck Everlasting” on Saturday, April 6, at 1 p.m. in Leedy Theatre inside the Allan W. Mund College Center. This initiative aims to provide a welcoming environment for individuals with sensory needs or other social, cognitive, and/or physical challenges, allowing them to enjoy the magic of live theatre.

What To Expect:

Audiences attending the sensory-friendly performance can expect several modifications to enhance their experience, including keeping the lights dimmed throughout the show, reducing overall sound levels, and eliminating potentially overwhelming elements such as strobe lights and intense sound effects. Additionally, the cast and crew will adjust their interactions with the audience to ensure a comfortable atmosphere for all attendees.

To further support guests, a staffed quiet area will be available in the lobby for those who may need a break during the performance. Audience members are also encouraged to bring their own comfort objects and support items to personalize their experience and make the most of this unique theatrical event.

Through his dedication to both his craft and his students, Jonathan Walker-VanKuren continues to inspire and uplift aspiring musicians while fostering a culture of inclusivity and accessibility in the performing arts. As the curtain rises on this sensory-friendly performance, it serves as a shining example of the transformative power of music and the boundless potential for artistic expression to unite and uplift us all.

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