Things are pretty hectic in the Education Department at the moment. At least ten projects are underway working with around 1000 young people in and around Leeds. Preparations are also in motion for two new high profile commissions led by the education team. Cautionary Tales!, a new children’s opera of dark and twisted tales accompanied by composer Errolyn Wallen’s music, opens in the Howard Assembly Room in March, and Sing Up Bridlington will culminate in a major community musical, Beached, in June.  For me however, the most exciting project (and the one taking up most of my time!) is the Opera North Children’s Chorus – or ONCC as it is commonly known in our department.

This is a brand new venture for Opera North – launching a chorus for 7 – 13 year olds – so the process of devising the project and getting it up and running has been a long one. I remember hearing about meetings to discuss the ONCC when I joined the company as an intern 18 months ago! After much discussion and planning it’s now full steam ahead and I have been lucky enough to take on a fresh role with specific focus on the ONCC. I get to combine my passions for music, education and project management in the running of the chorus and will be involved in all stages of its development. I couldn’t be happier!

Right now we are in the process of interviewing candidates for the role of Musical Director to lead the Children’s Chorus. This process is also a long and thorough one, but it is all worth it to ensure we get the best person for the job – they will certainly have their work cut out as we plan to start the chorus with 90 children! The fun will really start once the right person is appointed and we begin to recruit the children themselves.

We will be holding auditions in March and April for children interested in being part of the chorus, as well as taster sessions in schools throughout the area. With the popularity of TV shows such as Glee and X-Factor, more and more children are taking an interest in performing. This is a perfect chance for young people to get involved in singing beyond the school choir, and to learn and perform a variety of music especially dramatic repertoire; opera and musicals. There is a lot of untapped talent in Leeds and the ONCC will provide a great way to nurture that talent. I can’t wait for the children of Leeds to show us all what they are capable of!

Marc Dunleavy, Education Officer (Opera North Children’s Chorus)

The first group of its kind in the area, the Opera North Children’s Chorus will allow children from across Leeds to develop their singing voices, learn to read music, explore drama and stagecraft and perform alongside professionals. The children involved will also be given the necessary training and experience to allow them to audition for Opera North’s professional stage productions. Find out more in this video from Head of Education, Rebecca Walsh.

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