Drexel’s Youngmoo Kim taking sabbatical to work with Opera Philadelphia

The director of Drexel's ExCITe Center will spend the next year bringing tech to all aspects of the opera. "The way opera is produced hasn't changed much over the last 100 years," Kim said.

She-EO debuted in 2017 in Columbia. (Courtesy photo)

Youngmoo Kim is heading to the opera.

Kim, Drexel engineering professor and director of the school’s ExCITe Center, won’t be singing (though it’s not so far-fetched: the music-tech guru has a master’s in vocal performance and used to be part of the chorus of the Boston Symphony Orchestra). He’s taking his one-year sabbatical from Drexel to work with Opera Philadelphia and study how technology can be part of opera development.

That means applications for technology throughout every part of the process: music composition, production, staging, audience engagement.

“The way opera is produced hasn’t changed much over the last 100 years,” Kim said.

He’ll be thinking about on-stage technology, like virtual sets, projections and robotics systems. It’s an arena that New York City’s Metropolitan Opera has been venturing into, he said.

Kim’s sabbatical is a unique one: not many professors take time off to work with a cultural institution. Many will travel to other universities abroad to work on research projects with other professors, while some will work on books.

Instead, Kim, who lives in Chestnut Hill with his wife and son, will stay put. He’ll also continue to be the director of the ExCITe Center and will split his time between the two organizations.

Companies: Drexel University / Philadelphia Opera Company

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