Using Opera to be a “person for others” — The Denver VOICE

Music has always been part of Jérôme Sibulo’s life.

Growing up in the Philippines, he loved when his parents played oldies like the Carpenters and the Beatles for breakfast. He also sang as an accompanist while his grandmother played the piano during her visits. While it was clear to him early on that he would become a musician, Sibulo, 39, is now using those skills to be, as he puts it, a “person for others”.

Maybe it’s his Jesuit upbringing. Certainly, his friends and mentors are also among them. But regardless of Sibulo’s inspiration, he told Denver VOICE in an interview that his work as a baritone opera singer often inspires him to find ways to create a sense of unity for his audience. He also wants to inspire them to connect with people they would otherwise overlook.

“I like to shine a light on different aspects of life and help my audience to love life a little more, even its negative aspects,” Sibulo said. “There is beauty to be found everywhere and in everyone you meet.”

Sibulo’s journey to becoming a professional opera singer began when his mother enrolled him in singing lessons as a child. He mainly sang karaoke at the time, he says, in part because of the genre’s popularity in the Philippines.

He joined three choirs while studying for an undergraduate degree in psychology at Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City, a suburb of Manila. There he also met a teacher, Antonio Hila, who encouraged him and promised to give Sibulo free singing lessons if he agreed to audition for schools in the United States.

Sibulo has kept its end of the bargain. He enrolled at Indiana University, one of the nation’s top vocal performance schools, as a 23-year-old freshman in 2006, and he also earned undergraduate and graduate degrees. of the University.

But Sibulo says he had two experiences in Indiana that shaped how he views his job today. First, Sibulo joined Heartland Sings, a nonprofit vocal performance organization in Fort Wayne which he says taught him how to use his art to help underserved communities.

He also met her husband, Jacob Wooden, who convinced Sibulo to move to Denver in 2019. This second experience, Sibulo says, helped put him on the path to using his art to build community everywhere. or they will.

“If there are three things I could do for the rest of my life, it would be acting, being an arts administrator, and providing opportunities for other artists,” Sibulo said. “But that job didn’t exist when I moved to Denver, so I had to create one for myself.”

Now, Sibulo works as associate arts and ministry director at Trinity United Methodist Church, which hosts free lunches for the homeless community on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 1820 Broadway St. in Denver.

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