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Jackdaws wins Best Classical Music Education Initiative… again!

Jackdaws wins Best Classical Music Education Initiative… again!

Jackdaws Receive the Award

L to R: Margherita Taylor, Mark Eden, Helen Reid, Saffron van Zwanenberg, Chris Stell, Sam Jackson.

For the second year running, Jackdaws Music Education Trust has won a prestigious Music Teacher Award for Excellence for Best Classical Music Education Initiative, this year for their large scale education project The Year of…”

Jackdaws, based near Frome in Somerset, retains the award, which is sponsored by Classic FM, having won the same prize in 2016 for their innovative project, OperaPLUS.

Best Classical Music Education Initiative 2017Classic FM DJ Margherita Taylor presented Jackdaws with the award during the ceremony in Sheraton Grand London Park Lane Hotel, Mayfair, on the opening day of the Rhinegold Music Education Expo.

RECOGNITION OF OUR IMPACT

The award, celebrating “The Year of…” as the best Classical Music Initiative in the country this year, is recognition of the incredible impact the project has made to music education in Somerset. In the five years of the project, Jackdaws has worked with 44 schools across the county, engaging with more than 15,000 pupils. With performances and workshops also including teachers, as well as parents, siblings and performers at each of the five Grand Finale performances that number increases to over 30,000 people taking part in this project so far.

Artistic Director, Saffron van Zwanenberg, created the project in 2013 in response to a reduction in the number of children learning and continuing to play instruments and also to add strength to & develop the flagship WCET (Whole Class Ensemble Teaching) programme promoted by the National Plan for Music Education. It has become a key project in Jackdaws’ education output, supporting the organisation’s aim to enable creative expression by bringing music to life in an accessible, inclusive and inspirational way.  Ms van Zwanenberg, who was at the ceremony to collect the award on behalf of the Trust, said:

Year of the Guitar

Year of the Guitar Grand Finale Performance, 2014, with the Eden Stell Guitar Duo

Inspiration is usually the spark that lights the fire and in this case, if we want more children to play instruments and to continue to do so to a good level of proficiency and beyond, then access to the best in the world is the way forward. They meet and see amazing musicians doing remarkable things with instruments and playing wonderful repertoire. If we want orchestras in the future and audiences for chamber music and orchestral works, this first step is vital and it has been our privilege to work with such brilliant artists, who are not only masters in their fields but also as passionate about this as we are. This Award is wonderful recognition of their work and the work we do and will continue to do through active and innovative opportunities.We want to thank everybody who voted for us. As a small organisation, we work extremely hard, with limited resources, to ensure that we are able to continue to deliver projects like this. This Award means a huge amount to us – Thank you.

HISTORY

Thank You Carducci

Drawing by Orrin, “Thank You Carducci”

“The Year of…” project was launched by Jackdaws in 2013 with Year of the String Quartet, featuring the Carducci String Quartet. The project took the Carducci Quartet into 14 Somerset schools to perform and give whole class workshops to the children, culminating in the Grand Finale concert. The heart-warming and eye-opening concert in which over 100 pupils from all 14 schools performed en masse with the Carducci demonstrated that children can and do enjoy listening and participating in classical music.

The Year of… project is flexible, and each year introduces children to a different chamber / orchestral instrument; 2014 was Year of the Guitar with the Eden Stell Guitar Duo, 2015 was Year of Percussion with Joby Burgess and 2016 was Year of the Reed with the Gelachter Wind Trio.

Jackdaws invites artists of international standing, with a history of performing to the highest level and who have a special interest in education and out-reach, to take part in the project.

Watch the Year of the String Quartet video…

2017 THE YEAR OF RECORDER

Tabea Debus and Anna Stegmann lead Jackdaws Year of the RecorderThe Music Teacher Award for Excellence comes just in time for the beginning of the 2017 project; school workshops for the Year of Recorder start Monday 20 February, building on the past successes of “The Year of…” with international virtuosi Anna Stegmann and Tabea Debus. The Grand Finale performance, telling the story of “How the Wren became King”, takes place at Frome’s Cheese & Grain, 5:30pm on Wednesday 22 March.

Each school visit begins with a 45-minute interactive performance by the visiting musicians to the whole school. This performance is specially designed to stimulate the children’s imaginations and uses interactive games to excite their curiosity and demonstrate how wonderful these instruments are.

Following this, the musicians work with a smaller group of children to prepare music for the final performance. School teachers also have a chance to learn from the musicians during this workshop, and are supported with free resources including recordings and sheet music for the pieces, all downloadable from the Jackdaws website.

“The Year of…” is supported by Sound Foundation Somerset and has been featured on ClassicFM and in various local press.

Sound Foundation Somerset LogoClassicFM Logo

2016 – A Year in Review

2016 – A Year in Review

2016 – what a year it was. We say it every year, but this one really was the busiest we’ve ever known in Great Elm. We welcomed 400 participants on our weekend courses, a third of whom were new to Jackdaws; we delivered award-winning projects across Somerset and appointed our first ever Artists in Residence – the VIDA Guitar Quartet.

Our Projects

Credit Music Teacher Awards 2016

L to R: Margherita Taylor (Classic FM Presenter), René Bloice-Sanders (Company Member), Audrey Hyland (Music Director), Saffron van Zwanenberg (Director) and Sam Taylor (Classic FM Managing Editor). Credit: Music Teacher Awards 2016

The first success of the year was in February, when we attended the Gala Dinner of the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence, as our large-scale project OperaPLUS had been nominated for the Best Classical Music Education Initiative of 2015. We were absolutely delighted to hear OperaPLUS announced as the winners by Margherita Taylor, presenter on ClassicFM, who sponsored the prize. The 2016 OperaPLUS project was then a huge success in April; Artistic Director Saffron van Zwanenberg directed five fun-filled performances of Donizetti’s The Love Potion with 18 schools across Somerset packed with acting, singing and segways!

On Tuesday 22 March, the Gelachter Wind Trio performed alongside over 100 children from 12 schools across Somerset in the Grand Finale concert of the Year of the Reed project at the Cheese & Grain Frome. They performed arrangements of music by composers from Duke Ellington to Tchaikovsky interspersed with performances from the Gelachter Trio in the hour long concert.

Song Story 2016 was an exciting and fresh look at Vivaldi’s famous Four Seasons concertos. Composer William Carslake, together with Violinist Flora Curzon and Jackdaws Artistic Director Saffron van Zwanenberg investigated this work with four SEN Somerset schools – Elmwood, Avalon, Critchill and Selworthy. Each school focused on one season, working with the team and using the sonnets which inspired Vivaldi’s original composition, to create their own music and play and sing along with Vivaldi’s original score. There was a spectacular final performance of “Saving Earth” on Wednesday 29 June at Elmwood & Robert Blake Science College, Bridgwater. The students updated the story to tell of the fight against global warming and how we are saving earth from mankind’s thoughtlessness; a modern retelling which was really effective. It was a truly joyful experience for all involved.

Since September, Jack’s Music Club has been enjoying a new term of varied experiences and sound worlds. We have a whole new intake of keen young musicians attending each week, who gave two fantastic performances at the Jackdaws Christmas Concert, celebrating Ludwig van Beethoven (the concert happened to take place on 16 December, the maestro’s birthday). Jackdaws is now also an Arts Award centre and Jack’s members have the opportunity to earn a qualification during their usual weekly session.

We have continued to develop our work with the Music Hub for Somerset, taking a very active part in the Singing Strategy for Somerset schools, offering a mixed-programme of teacher training and in-school sessions, and the first Somerset Schools Singing Festival, which took place in the Summer term.

Caecilia AndriessenSaying ‘Vaarwel’

In May, we said a very sad farewell to Caecilia Andriessen, who retired. Caecilia was one of the very first tutors at Jackdaws and has been leading her unique “Pianos for All” ensemble course for the last 21 years, making the trip over from The Hague with several faithful students every year since 1995. The Pianos for All weekend involved groups of pianists playing music arranged for two, three and four pianos! We will miss this very special and joyful part of our annual calendar.

Saying ‘Hello’ to our Artists in Residence

In the Summer, the VIDA Guitar Quartet became the first Jackdaws Artists in Residence. It is the first time that such an appointment has been made by Jackdaws, and we are looking forward to unveiling future plans and discovering how the new relationship will bear fruit.

VIDA Concert at Jackdaws in December 2016VIDA celebrated this announcement with a fundraising concert on Saturday 3 December; their last before heading off on tour to the United States at the beginning of 2017. The concert raised important funds for Jackdaws and was a great treat for the local community.

The VIDA Quartet have a strong association with Jackdaws through the longstanding relationship between two members, Mark Eden and Christopher Stell (who also perform as the Eden Stell Guitar Duo). The Duo have been teaching at Jackdaws for more than 20 years and, as Artists in Residence, the Quartet will be ambassadors for Jackdaws in the UK and around the world.

Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards

Winners of the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards 216

L to R: Saffron van Zwanenberg, Leo Nicholson (Accomp Prize), Holly Marie Bingham (2nd Prize), Nardus Williams (1st & Audience Prizes), Rosemary Joshua, Sam Carl (3rd Prize), Joan Rodgers, Julian Jacobson

The 2016 Vocal Awards continued with the same high standards set in previous years. This year it was Nardus Williams, a young soprano currently studying at the Guildhall with Yvonne Kenny, who took First Place as well as the Audience Prize. The Judges – Rosemary Joshua, Joan Rodgers, Julian Jacobson, chaired by Saffron van Zwanenberg – were very impressed with her performance.

We are all looking forward to the Vocal Awards 2017, which will be the 25th year of the competition. Keep your eyes peeled for details of how we are going to celebrate this significant milestone, which kickstarts the celebrations for Jackdaws 25th anniversary in 2018.

Two Great Losses

Sadly, we lost two great friends in 2016. The first was very early in the year when we heard of loss of tutor Kenneth van Barthold on 16 February. He was 88 years old and had been giving courses at Jackdaws for many years. An exceptional man, his obituary in the Telegraph shows just how respected he was.

sarah-wheeler-at-maureen-memorial-concertThen, in April, we received news that a long-time supporter of Jackdaws, Sarah Wheeler, had also passed away. She was a supporter of Jackdaws from the beginning, and a long time friend of Maureen. Sarah led the fundraising campaign that allowed us to buy our building, and when Maureen passed away in 2010, it was she who helped to organise the concert in her memory. She was a great lover of art and music and was a passionate believer in the healing power of both. As a result, she founded the Mental Fight Club and later the Dragon Cafe to share the benefit of both with others. She will be very sadly missed in Great Elm.

New Technology

We ended the year by releasing a video about our weekend courses. Produced by Tambrisk pictures, the four-minute video showcases our facilities and surroundings whilst answering questions a new-comer might have about their first visit to a Jackdaws music course. Watch the video here…

The Staff and Trustsees at Jackdaws want to thank all friends, supporters, colleagues and organisations who have helped us this year including;
Angus Allnatt Charitable Foundation, Rosemary Bugden Trust, the Mercers’ Trust, the Mackintosh Foundation, Frome Voices, Cooper Hall Foundation.

Grants were also received from a number of local councils and funding bodies;
Arts Council England, Sound Foundation Somerset, Frome Town Council, South Somerset District Council.

We are also extremely grateful to the number of individuals who have made donations both large and small, and to Friends of Jackdaws, whose regular contributions ensure that Jackdaws can continue to facilitate the joy of music participation for everyone.

If you would like to make a donation to Jackdaws, you can do so by becoming a Friend, or making a one-off donation. For more information read Supporting Jackdaws.

Vote for Year of…

Vote for Year of…

Music Teacher Awards OperaPLUS

Vote for Jackdaws on the ClassicFM website now! Voting closes 30 November.

At the start of 2016, we were delighted to be awarded with the ClassicFM Best Classical Music Education Initiative for our innovative project OperaPLUS. Well, the finalists for the 2017 award have just been announced, and we’re are finalists for a second year running. This time, with our large scale project The Year of….

The Year of… Project
The Year of project was started in 2013 by Artistic Director Saffron van Zwanenberg, who wanted to bring exceptional musicians to schools in Somerset to inspire and support children to start, and continue, playing an instrument.

In each Year of… project, a different ensemble or artist highlights their musical instrument with a whole school performance workshop, followed by smaller group work with up to 30 ‘players’ from each school playing a wide range of instruments in preparation for a Grand Finale concert where all the schools perform en masse alongside the professionals in Frome’s Cheese & Grain.

So far, the Year of project has involved the Carducci String Quartet (2013 – Year of the String Quartet), the Eden Stell Guitar Duo (2014 – Year of Guitar), Percussionist Joby Burgess (2015 – Year of Percussion), the Gelachter Wind Trio (2016 – Year of the Reed) and we are just embarking on 2017 – Year of the Recorder, which will be led by the recorder virtuosi Anna Stegmann and Tabea Debus.

In the four years of this project so far we have worked with nearly 50 schools in hard to reach areas of Somerset and engaged with over 15,000 children, young people and their teachers, introducing them to inspiring celebrated  musicians from the orchesetral and chamber music worlds.

Preparations for Year of the Recorder in 2017 are already well underway and will involve up to a further 12 schools and all of their pupils

We are grateful to all of the funders who have made this project possible – Arts Council England, Sound Foundation Somerset, The Radcliffe Trust, Austin Hope Pilkington Trust, Cavatina Trust, Frome Town Council.

Please vote for Jackdaws on the ClassicFM website now. Thank you. Voting closes 30 November.

OperaPLUS is the Best Classical Music Education Initiative

OperaPLUS is the Best Classical Music Education Initiative

Credit Music Teacher Awards 2016

Margherita Taylor (Classic FM Presenter), René Bloice-Sanders (Company Member), Audrey Hyland (Music Director), Saffron van Zwanenberg (Director) and Sam Jackson (Classic FM Managing Editor). Credit: Music Teacher Awards 2016

On the 25th of February, Jackdaws Music Education Trust was presented with a prestigious Music Teacher Award for Excellence for the OperaPLUS project, which won the category of Best Classical Music Education Initiative, sponsored by Classic FM.

We want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who voted for us; all our friends and supporters who took the time to give their backing to the campaign. It is an honour to receive this Award and it is down to your support that we are able to continue to run projects like this.

The award was presented by Classic FM Managing Editor Sam Jackson during a special awards ceremony hosted by Rhingeold Music Education Expo at London’s Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel in Kensington. The category of Best Classical Music Education Initiative was decided by public ballot via the Classic FM website.

The award is recognition of OperaPLUS’ outstanding contribution and achievements since its inaugural project in 2010. Every year since then, it has brought high-quality opera into schools across Somerset, introducing countless children and adults alike to the art form in an accessible and inclusive setting. In 2015 alone the project worked with 14 schools with up to 120 children in each of the five performances across the county.

The project brings together primary school children to perform alongside professional opera singers from Jackdaws Young Artist programme, in full length versions of well-known operas, sung in English. For many, it provides a first encounter with a live opera performance.

Jackdaws Artistic Director, Saffron van Zwanenberg, created the project when she took up post in 2009. It has become a key project in Jackdaws Education output, supporting the organisational aim to enable creative expression by bringing music to life in an accessible, inclusive and inspirational way. Ms van Zwanenberg, who was at the ceremony to collect the award on behalf of the Trust and the OperaPLUS team, said:

“OperaPLUS is so important to me personally. I loved opera as a child, for the tunes, the stories, the epic struggles and the rib aching comedy. I wanted more children from all backgrounds to have access to this unique art form, I knew that if it was presented in an accessible way they would love it too, and they have never let me down. It also provides vital training for aspiring singers in music education, an area too often overlooked, and lets the communities see the opera through the children’s eyes as they perform alongside the professionals, vitally important as well. This Award is wonderful recognition of the work we have been doing and will continue to do through active and innovative opportunities.

“We want to thank everybody who voted for us. As a small organisation, we work extremely hard, with limited resources, to ensure that we are able to continue to deliver projects like this. This Award means a huge amount to us – Thank you.”

In 2016, OperaPLUS will continue to build on its past successes by presenting a production of Donizetti’s The Love Potion (L’elisir d’amore) with 5 performances this April, involving 18 schools. Each school will work with the cast and production team in a range of workshops to prepare their music for the performance, supported with resources including recordings and sheet music of their parts, all downloadable from the Jackdaws website.

OperaPLUS is supported by Sound Foundation Somerset and Arts Council England and has been featured on BBC Radio Somerset, ClassicFM and in various local press.

OperaPLUS Awards Badge

2015 – Year in Review

Well, what a year 2015 was. Our Education work expanded our reach across to the far side of Somerset with OperaPLUS and in Year of Percussion with percussionist Joby Burgess, and our Piano courses we were voted second place in the Best Piano Courses in the UK in a survey by piano blog the Cross Eyed Pianist.

OperaPLUS

Music Teacher Awards for ExcellenceThe first major project of 2015 was April’s OperaPLUS production of ‘The Stylist of Somerset’ (also known as Rossini’s Barber of Seville). OperaPLUS brings together groups of aspiring young opera singers and primary school children who then work together under the guidance of Artistic Director, Saffron van Zwanenberg and Audrey Hyland (Royal Academy) to produce five performances at venues across Somerset. This year, the OperaPLUS project expanded to include over 100 children participating in each performance.

We are delighted that OperaPLUS has been nominated as ‘Best Classical Music Education Initiative’ in the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence, sponsored by ClassicFM. Please vote for us! (And hurry – voting closes on Friday 22nd January!)

Year of Percussion

Jackdaws Year of Percussion with Joby BurgessJune saw the final performance of another of our large scale projects – Year of Percussion – which gave the opportunity to students from a dozen schools to take part in workshops under the leadership of internationally acclaimed percussionist, Joby Burgess. Their work culminated in a concert held at the Cheese & Grain in Frome, in which the children performed en mass together with Joby who introduced the sold out audience to an unusual array of percussion instruments during the show. This was the fourth year this project has run and which has now involved over 6000 children; we are looking forward to 2016, which continues our journey around the orchestra with ‘Year of the Reed’.

Summer Production

Summer ProductionOur attempts to involve as many young people as possible in a wide spectrum of music based activities continued in July with the ‘Summer Production’. Children between the ages of 10 and 17 spent a week working with Saffron, Will Carslake (music director) and designer Sarah Lawton in which the children chose to perform Macbeth in combination with music by and based on Mozart with design inspied by the work of contemporary American artist Kiki Smith. This is a largely participant driven event and the performance demonstrated the children’s creative skills in acting, music and the various elements of stage design. The final show took place at Frome’s unique Silk Mill on the Friday.

Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards

Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards: Winners & Judges outside the Wigmore Hall 2015Every November our focus moves from the schools of Somerset into London’s Wigmore Hall for the annual Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards, the highlight of our Young Artist’s calendar. Following preliminary auditions, the final seven singers each sang an aria by Handel, a song by Peter Wishart and a piece of their own choosing for the Wigmore audience. Sadley, Oliver Johnston was forced to withdraw through ill-health on the day before the finals, so his place was taken by the first reserve singer, baritone Julien Mellaerts. Astonishingly, with such a short warning, Julien was able to produce the winning performance and walked away with the £2,000 first prize.

Roll on 2016!

Vote for Jackdaws OperaPLUS in the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence

Vote for Jackdaws OperaPLUS in the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence

Music Teacher Awards for Excellence

EDIT: WE WON!! On 25 February, our innovative project OperaPLUS was presented with the Music Teacher Magazine Award for Excellence for “Best Classical Music Education Initiative”. We want to thank everybody who voted for us and supports our Education work. This is a huge achievement and means a lot to us. [26 February 2016]
EDIT: Voting has now closed for the Awards. Thank you if you were one of those who voted for us – we find out in February if we have been successful! [22 January 2016]

Voting has officially opened for the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence, sponsored by ClassicFM, which sees Jackdaws OperaPLUS, from Jackdaws Music Education Trust, nominated in the category “Best Classical Music Education Initiative”. The Award is recognition of the incredible work this innovative project has done to share high quality opera with children and young people in hard to reach communities across Somerset.

OperaPLUS was the first of many projects created by Jackdaws Artistic Director, Saffron van Zwanenberg when she took up the post in 2009:

“It was borne of many different personal experiences which led to a great desire to bring about a combination of outcomes, namely that children and young people have a positive experience of opera and benefit from the well documented effects of participating in music. Young artists receive training and experience in community and education work, in a supported and career enhancing way, children actively participate in performing by singing and acting alongside the professional cast and hard to reach communities have access to high quality opera in an accessible and affordable setting. It was also important to me that the operas came from the mainstream repertoire to give context to the varied, everyday use of this repertoire that the children and audiences hear in their daily lives.”

To vote for Jackdaws OperaPLUS as Best Music Education Initiative, visit the ClassicFM website

What is OperaPLUS?
Jackdaws OperaPLUSOperaPLUS is a key part of Jackdaws Music Education Trust’s work to enable creative expression by bringing music to life in an accessible, inclusive and inspirational way.

The project brings together primary school children and professional opera singers from Jackdaws Young Artist programme, to perform full length versions of well-known operas, sung in English. It is directed by Jackdaws Artistic Director, Saffron van Zwanenberg, with the musical direction of Audrey Hyland, Royal Academy of Music professor and vocal coach. The young, professional cast take the lead roles with chorus’ and other roles adapted for performance by the participating children, numbering up to 120 per performance. There are a series of workshops prior to the performances with the cast and director and then the cast and children perform alongside each other in accessible venues in the heart of their communities to large audiences, many of whom are new to opera.

History of OperaPLUS
The first OperaPLUS production was The Magic Flute by Mozart in June 2010, with one performance in Frome, Somerset, involving three local schools. Since then, the project has developed year on year so that in 2015, OperaPLUS was able to present the most ambitious production yet. Working with 14 schools from across Somerset, Jackdaws delivered 5 performances of the Stylist of Somerset (Rossini’s Barber of Seville) in different areas throughout this rural country.

This production was featured on BBC Somerset Radio by Ben McGrail, who used OperaPLUS as an opportunity to ask the public what they thought of opera. The result was overwhelmingly positive which is reflected in the way this project is received by the children and families who participate.
In 2016, OperaPLUS will continue to build on its past successes by presenting a production of Donizetti’s The Love Potion (L’elisir d’amore) with 5 performances including 18 schools. Each school will work with the cast and production team to prepare their music for the performance and are supported with a free set of resources including recordings and sheet music of their parts, all downloadable from the Jackdaws website.

Sound Foundation Somerset LogoOperaPLUS is supported by Sound Foundation Somerset, the Music Hub for Somerset and Arts Council England.

We need all the votes we can get for Jackdaws OperaPLUS as Best Music Education Initiative, visit the voting page on the ClassicFM website.ClassicFM Logo

OperaPLUS Nominated for Best Classical Music Education Initiative

UPDATE [17 December 2015]: Voting is now open! Please visit ClassicFM to vote for OperaPLUS as “Best Music Education Initiative”

Jackdaws OperaPLUS has been nominated in the Music Teacher Magazine Awards for Excellence in the category “Best Classical Music Education Initiative”. The award, sponsored by ClassicFM, is recognition of the incredible work this project has done to share high quality opera with children and young people in hard to reach communities across Somerset.

OperaPLUS was the first of many projects created and set up by Jackdaws Artistic Director, Saffron van Zwanenberg:

“It was borne of many different personal experiences which led to a great desire to bring about a combination of outcomes, namely that children and young people have a positive experience of opera and benefit from the well documented effects of participating in music. Young artists receive training and experience in community and education work, in a supported and career enhancing way and hard to reach communities have access to high quality opera in an accessible and affordable setting. It was also important to me that the operas came from the mainstream repertoire to give context to the varied, everyday use of this repertoire that the children and audiences hear in their daily lives.”

OperaPLUS is a key part of Jackdaws Music Education Trust’s work to enable creative expression by bringing music to life in an accessible, inclusive and inspirational way.

The project brings together primary school children and professional opera singers from Jackdaws Young Artist programme, to perform full length versions of well-known operas, sung in English. It is directed by Jackdaws Artistic Director, Saffron van Zwanenberg, with the musical direction of Audrey Hyland, Royal Academy of Music professor and vocal coach. The young, professional cast take the lead roles and the chorus’s and other roles are adapted for performance by the participating children, numbering up to 120 per performance. There are a series of workshops prior to the performances with the cast and director and then the cast and children perform alongside each other in accessible venues in the heart of their communities to large audiences, many of whom are new to opera.

OperaPLUS Stylist of Somerset

The Stylist of Somerset, OperaPLUS 2015

The first OperaPLUS production was The Magic Flute by Mozart in June 2010, with one performance in Frome, Somerset, involving three local schools. Since then, the project has developed year on year so that in 2015, OperaPLUS was able to present the most ambitious production yet. Working with 14 schools from across Somerset, Jackdaws delivered 5 performances of the Stylist of Somerset (Rossini’s Barber of Seville) in different areas throughout this rural country.

The production was featured on BBC Somerset Radio by Ben McGrail, who used OperaPLUS as an opportunity to ask the public what they thought of opera. The result was overwhelmingly positive which is reflected in the way it is received by the children and families who participate.

In 2016, OperaPLUS will continue to build on its past successes by presenting a production of Donizetti’s The Love Potion (L’elisir d’amore) with 5 performances including 18 schools. Each school will work with the cast and production team to prepare their music for the performance and are supported with a free set of resources including sheet music and recordings of their parts, all downloadable from the Jackdaws website.

OperaPLUS is supported by Sound Foundation Somerset, the Music Hub for Somerset and Arts Council England.

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