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Friday, 29 April 2016

Opera Prelude's See Golden Days project

Callie Swarbrick
Callie Swarbrick
Opera Prelude is a charity which helps support and encourage young singers, providing experience via performances as well as opera into the community, accessible, affordable events. Their See Golden Days project brings professional young singers together with older people. Giving informal concerts in residential care homes, the project involves not only singing but the young performers socialise and interact with the older people. As well as increasing well-being music can stimulate through memory and have an important effect on people whose communication is limited.

Anna Harvey - photo Justin Kim
Anna Harvey - photo Justin Kim
Last night (27 April 2016) we heard a private recital by performers from Opera Prelude which showcased some of the repertoire they use and highlighted the importance of community projects like this. Soprano Callie Swarbrick, mezzo-soprano Anna Harvey and pianist Mark Austin performed a programme whose theme was the caprices of youth and the passing of years.

Callie Swarbrick sang arias from Mozart's Don Giovanni, Massenet's Manon and Rossini's Semiramide, plus songs by Schubert, Poulenc and Roussel as well as Faure's Poeme d'un jour, whilst Anna Harvey sang music from Bizet's Carmen and Berlioz's Les nuits d'ete, plus de Falla's Seven popular songs, and songs by Purcell, Duparc, Strauss and Debussy. Pianist Mark Austen contributed a solo of his own, Rachmaninov's Etude-tableau Op.35 No.5. At the end, they added a couple of lighter items, Gershwin's Summertime and Arlen's Somewhere over the Rainbow before finishing with their only duet, the Evening Prayer from Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel.

Chatting about it afterwards the performers and Opera Prelude's director, Fiona Hamilton, talked about the remarkable effect this combination of music and memories can have, and how it was not uncommon for the audience to join in, even those who have limited communication.

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