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Opera North Develops Musicians Of The Future
Opera North Children's Chorus - photo by Justin Slee
As part of its long-standing commitment to developing musical talent in Leeds and across the North of England, Opera North will be taking the work of its well-established youth ensembles - Opera North Children's Chorus and Opera North Youth Chorus - on tour this summer, performing at prestigious venues, festivals and events across the country.

Opera North Orchestra Camp also returns giving young instrumentalists an opportunity to perfect their skills side-by-side with the Orchestra of Opera North at the University of Leeds School of Music during the school holidays, before a new string ensemble, Opera North Junior Strings, launches in the autumn.

Opera North Vocal Ensembles

"I really love coming to Opera North Youth Chorus. It's become a massive part of my life and I have met people there that I will never forget. But more than that, it's been amazing for my vocal skills and performance skills to be coached by very talented people." ONYC Member

The Opera North Children's Chorus is open to children from 8 to 12 years old, with branches currently in Leeds and Newcastle, while the Opera North Young Voices and Opera North Youth Chorus offers regular workshops for 12 to 19 year olds. In both ensembles, the young people meet with professional artists on a weekly basis to explore their creativity and gain practical experience in music, singing, drama, design, technical skills and direction. They are also given the opportunity to perform throughout the year with professional musicians, including the Chorus and Orchestra of Opera North, and were most recently seen on stage during the Company's critically-acclaimed production of Turandot.

Throughout the summer, both the Children's and Youth Choruses will be visiting a number of cities and towns to showcase their skills.

Leading the way on Saturday 17 June, the recently-formed Opera North Children's Chorus Newcastle will be joining forces with ONCC Leeds to host a free performance of The Spiders' Revenge by Peter Maxwell Davies at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle. The event is part of 'The Great Get Together' weekend in celebration of the life of the MP Jo Cox, with the work offering a musical interpretation of the importance of every creature, however small and seemingly insignificant, to the world's eco-system.

The following afternoon at the Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall, University of Leeds, ONCC Leeds will perform The Spiders' Revenge followed by Sea Shanties, a selection of songs inspired by Opera North's 2016 production of Benjamin Britten's opera Billy Budd.

For the Opera North Youth Chorus, summer is all about Dr Ferret's Bad Medicine Roadshow which was inspired by Hilaire Belloc's classic Cautionary Tales, and follows Dr Ferret and his Sweetheart on a journey of childhood discovery.

The older singers, together with an ensemble of young instrumentalists, will premiere their production of Stephen Deazley's one-act opera at the Buxton Fringe Festival, followed by performances at Middleton Hall in Hull and the Tête à Tête Festival at The Place in London, the world's largest festival of new opera.

Following these appearances, the ONYC will be travelling to Denmark in November to join Den Jyske Opera Education for three performances in Aarhus, 2017 European Capital of Culture, as part of the GrowOp! Festival 2017.

Opera North Youth Chorus - photo by Justin Slee
Opera North and Young Musicians

Opera North is also committed to developing young orchestral players through its popular holiday activity and, from September, weekly instrumental sessions for beginner string players.

The second Opera North Orchestra Camp takes place at the University of Leeds School of Music from Monday 21 to Friday 25 August.

Open to orchestral players aged 10 to 18 years, the non-residential camp is supported by the Ann Maguire Arts Education Fund and welcomes all abilities from Grades 1 to 8, with participants being challenged over the week to develop within their own technical ability.

Working alongside professional musicians, they will master repertoire inspired by Ravel's L'enfant et les sortilèges, one of the operas in the Company's forthcoming The Little Greats season, culminating in a side-by-side performance with the Orchestra of Opera North on the final day.

Opera North Orchestra Camp - photo by Opera North
Opera North Junior Strings launches at the start of the autumn term. A brand-new ensemble in Leeds for young musicians who play a stringed orchestral instrument, the group will be suitable for beginner instrumentalists (Grade 0-3) from Year 6 and above, and will meet weekly to perfect their skills under the guidance of a member of the Orchestra of Opera North and the Opera North Education department.

The sessions are open to all but have been specifically designed to provide an easy-to-access next step for all the pupils who have participated in Opera North's In Harmony residencies at Windmill Primary School, Low Road Primary School and New Bewerley Community School, enabling them to progress on their instruments as they transition to secondary school.

Jacqui Cameron, Opera North Education Director, said:

"We're really keen to give young people as many opportunities as possible to become involved with music whether they prefer singing or playing an instrument - and to broaden their musical horizons by arranging performances not only in their home cities but throughout the UK and overseas. By doing so, we aim to create lifelong memories and to inspire a love of music which will stay with these young people forever.

"We're delighted to now be adding a new group to our ensemble stable with ON Junior Strings in Leeds. All our initiatives with young people are a fantastic illustration of the depth of talent which exists in the North of England. We're always impressed by the dedication and professionalism which the young musicians bring to every project, and with the results they invariably produce."

More information on Opera North's youth ensembles and Summer Orchestra Camp can be found at operanorth.co.uk/education/youth or by email at education@operanorth.co.uk. Entry to both choruses is by audition only, with the emphasis on potential rather than any previous experience. Opera North Junior Strings will be open to everyone, with no audition necessary.

Opera North Develops Musicians Of The Future, 14th June 2017, 16:55 PM