Wednesday 2 December 2020

Opera North launches its Light Up Lives campaign for Christmas 2020

Opera North launches its Light Up Lives campaign for Christmas 2020

Opera North's From Couch to Chorus virtual choir project this year [see my article] persuaded over 4,000 people to learn the basics of opera singing from the comfort of their own living rooms via weekly Zoom rehearsals. Described by one participant as 'an anchor in a storm', the sessions proved popular both with those who were missing the social interaction provided by their usual choir practices and those keen to acquire a new skill over lockdown. All felt connected to each other through the act of shared performance.

Other, less visible Opera North initiatives this year include arranging performances at 20 care homes in and around Leeds as part of Arts Together for Care Homes, and treating the refugee and asylum seeker families at St Augustine’s Centre in Halifax to a socially-distanced performance of Whistle Stop Opera: Hansel and Gretel.

Activities planned include a film of a new Whistle Stop Opera: Cinderella to give schools and families the chance to watch the show free as an online alternative to a Christmas pantomime trip this year. Using the experience gained from the In Harmony Opera North community residency, which takes place in six Leeds schools and involves 1800 children a Home Music Programme has been created. This follows the National Curriculum, and will offer online music learning to children from 7 to 11-years-old, including the opportunity to learn how to play an orchestral instrument with support from professional artists.

All this costs money, and the company has launched its Christmas appeal, Light Up Lives asking people to help light up lives in schools, communities and homes this Christmas through the power of music:

  • £15 could help In Harmony Opera North team create online singing resources for children to access from home
  • £50 could enable a group of young care leavers to experience the healing power of As You Are, Opera North's Leeds soundwalk
  • £150 could delight care home residents and staff with their very own outdoor performance
  • £500 could help film Whistle Stop Opera: Cinderella for schools and families across the North this Christmas

Richard Mantle, General Director of Opera North, said:

"The challenges of this year have been immense, affecting us all in different ways but forcing us to confront loss in its various forms; of certainty in our futures, of the things that sustain our happiness, and of the time spent with those we love. It is at times such as these that we come together around the things that bring the most light into our lives, and for many of us, this is music. "

"We are determined to return to live performance and to resume touring opera as soon as we are able but, whatever challenges we face, we remain committed to using music to create extraordinary experiences every day for and with the communities we serve. Any donations towards our work will be very gratefully received as they will enable us to continue to impact even more lives across the North of England and further afield."

Full details and donations at the Opera North website.

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