The Opera North Children's Chorus with Musical Director, Justin Doyle and Vocal Consultant, Rachel Staunton. Photo credit: Jonny Walton, Kaptur

Education is a very broad term and means different things to different people.  At Opera North we believe in creating opportunities that engage people from cradle to grave.  Our two newest projects illustrate our commitment to young and old.

Our Little Voices project sees parents and their children aged 0-4 flocking into weekly sessions which get them involved in music and movement activities which are both fun and educational.  Children develop a sense of pulse and pitch, and each week we have a listening session at the end where we dim the lights and listen to a snippet of opera!  Little Voices is one of our most over-subscribed projects and it’s wonderful to see so many children being introduced to music so early on in their lives – let’s hope they carry on enjoying it for a long time to come!

Our work with older people is in partnership with Bradford District Care Trust, and we hope to explore the power of musical reminiscence for those with Alzheimer’s disease.  This is an incredibly important and interesting area of research and delivery but is also a very sensitive subject, so we will be treading carefully and seeking lots of support from the experts.  From an academic point of view there is the opportunity to look into how and why music can be helpful to those suffering from AD – research shows that music heightens responses in AD patients allowing better attention and improved memory, and that the parts of the brain which process music may be spared by the disease.  Away from academia, our work is important for the simple fact that it is a fun session which gives the participants an engaging activity which makes them feel more confident and generally better in themselves.

There are many other new projects this year, and our established programme continues to inspire people all over the North.  Our partnership with Streetwise Opera continues, and is due to grow to include work with the homeless in Leeds and the North East in addition to the existing programme in Manchester.  Thousands of children will see their first opera this year whether that’s Queen of Spades or Cautionary Tales (which tours the north in March 2012).  We continue to train local teachers and artists in order to ensure that as many children as possible are coming into contact with good music-making opportunities.  Our extensive out-of school programmes continue throughout the year, spearheaded by the Opera North Children’s Chorus – 90 children singing together is a phenomenal sound!  Any child aged 7-13 is welcome to audition.  Come and hear them in their debut alongside the ON Orchestra and Chorus in Dewsbury on December 21st.

Rebecca Walsh
Head of Education

The Christmas concert will take place on Wednesday 21 December at 7.30pm at Dewsbury Town Hall, as part of the Kirklees Concert Season.  For more information and to book tickets, click here.