Friday, 21 July 2017

Roxanna Panufnik & Jessica Duchen's Silver Birch at Garsington

Garsington Opera - Silver Birch rehearsals Sam Furness with the community chorus (Photo John Snelling)
Garsington Opera - Silver Birch rehearsals Sam Furness with the community chorus (Photo John Snelling)
Roxanna Panufnik (Photo John Snelling)
Roxanna Panufnik (Photo John Snelling)
Roxanna Panufnik's new opera, Silver Birch, is a commission from Garsington Opera and it will be premiered on 28 July 2017 at Garsington Opera with performers combining professional singers and instrumentalists with over 180 people from the local community aged 8 to 80. Students from primary and secondary schools, members of the local military community, student Foley artists under the guidance of Pinewood Studios and members of Wycombe Women’s Aid will perform as dancers, singers, actors and instrumentalists alongside the professionals. 

The professional roles will be performed by Sam Furness (Jack), Victoria Simmonds (Anna), Darren Jeffery (Simon), Bradley Travis (Sassoon), Sarah Redgwick (Mrs Morrell) and James Way (Davey) with the Garsington Opera Orchestra conducted by Douglas Boyd. The opera is directed by Karen Gillingham with designs by Rhiannon Newman Brown.

The 180-strong company was selected from workshops and residencies throughout Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, with over 300 people being auditioned. The community performers include a mix of 60 local adults, a 40 strong Youth Company (aged 10 to 20) from over 25 different schools and colleges, and the 50-strong Primary Company from six local schools. Four child soloists share the key roles of siblings Leo and Chloe. The company includes 10 members of the Armed Forces community including currently serving personnel, military wives and veterans including ex-Senior Aircraftman Luke Delahunty for Aylesbury who experienced a life-changing motorbike accident in 1998. Some of the performers have little stage experience, and all have responded striking theme of the opera which shows the effects of war on a contemporary family both of whose sons join up, with a libretto by the novelist and journalist Jessica Duchen.



Garsington Opera - Silver Birch rehearsals (Photo John Snelling)
Garsington Opera - Silver Birch rehearsals (Photo John Snelling)

In the pit, thanks to a partnership with Buckinghamshire Music Education Hub, a group of young local instrumentalists will play specially written shadow parts, performing alongside the Garsington Opera Orchestra, conducted by Douglas Boyd. And using created during the devising process by sound and music consultant Jem Panufnik, students from Cressex Community School will perform alongside the sound design team led by Glen Gathard and Foley artists from Pinewood Studios. 

Silver Birch is performed at Garsington Opera on 28, 29, 30 July 2017 and tickets are just £10, further information from their website.

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