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UniSound Launches Black Teaching Artist-in-Residence Program
The first residents are multidisciplinary performer Lyn Starr and flutist Brittany Trotter
PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (February 4, 2021) – This February, UniSound launches its new Black Teaching Artist-in-Residence program (BTAR), an initiative to support the music practice and professional development of Black teaching artists in Greater Pittsburgh. Starting this week and lasting seven months, the inaugural residencies have been awarded to multi-genre performance artist Lyn Starr and flutist Brittany Trotter.
UniSound is an alliance of organizations dedicated to creating a more accessible, sustainable and equitable youth music ecosystem in Greater Pittsburgh. The artists-in-residence will serve as thought partners with UniSound and its member organizations, and each teaching artist will conclude their residency with a project of their choosing, such as a workshop, a recital or a lecture.
Each resident will receive a monthly stipend of $1,000, for a total of $7,000 over the course of the program, as well as opportunities for professional mentorship, networking, and up to $2,000 in additional resources toward developing their artistic practice and career.
“Many of us have wanted to do the BTAR and similar programs for years,” says Dr. Kendra Ross, UniSound Steering Committee member, who, along with ACT3 Consulting Partners Denele Biggs and Tanika Harris, was a lead architect of the BTAR program. “Representation [of Black people in teaching the arts] is important, and that representation should be normalized.”
She adds, “Equity is obviously important, but also important is simply considering whether artists can even continue to do art in the current climate. We need to provide these opportunities wherever possible.”
More on the artists:
Lyn Starr is a multidisciplinary performance artist, a teacher, and CEO of High Five Productions, which he founded at age 17 and through which he has released four mixtapes, five EPs and various singles. With a vocal performance degree from Seton Hill University and a background in classical music and hip hop, Starr has performed in diverse settings, from operas, to musicals, to solo recitals and shows. In 2015, Starr began his teaching career as a hip hop instructor with the Alumni Theater Company of Pittsburgh. Since then, he has taught voice, music-writing, music theory, story-writing, rap, hip hop history, opera, acting, and more.
As a Black Teaching Artist-in-Residence, Starr hopes to partner with more youth and arts organizations in order to build his artistry into a full-time career. Further goals include opening an entertainment and production studio in Pittsburgh, touring nationally, and creating an “Art Trade School.” Starr explains, “[The] curriculum would focus on providing students with the proper training and knowledge to perfect their craft, while also providing them with the knowledge, skills, and resources necessary to locate/create jobs in their field.”
An active performer and educator, Dr. Brittany Trotter has appeared as a guest clinician, soloist, orchestral and collaborative musician throughout the United States. She serves on the faculty of Dickinson College and West Virginia Wesleyan College as Instructor of Flute, as well as on the musicianship faculty at Duquesne University, where she teaches a history of hip hop course. As a primary and secondary music educator, Trotter maintains a vibrant private traditional and Suzuki flute studio, teaches at Waldorf School of Pittsburgh and Hope Academy of Music and Art, and works as the program coordinator for the Guardians of Sound’s Hip Hop Orchestra Summer Music Camp. She also serves in leadership roles at the Flute New Music Consortium and the National Flute Association.
“As the pandemic continues to disrupt the daily norms of our community, it is vital for me to generate creative new ways to serve not only my interest as a professional flutist but also build positive relationships with students and community members,” she says. Her goals include creating a visual album of flute works by women and BIPOC composers and producing a flute method book that utilizes excerpts from modern, popular hip hop and R&B music.
Questions about the BTAR program or engaging these artists for teaching opportunities should be directed to BTAR@unisound.us.
About UniSound: UniSound’s mission is to create a more accessible, sustainable, and equitable youth music ecosystem in the greater Pittsburgh area through building an alliance of organizations that provide music education and performance opportunities for youth. UniSound is a program of Three Rivers Young Peoples Orchestras, but is ultimately a collaborative project of more than 35 Pittsburgh area organizations that share a common trait of providing opportunities for children and/or teens to create music out-of-school time.