Articles tagged with: OperaPLUS

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

Workshops start again!

Workshops start again!

The Love PotionHere we are at the start of February, and the Jackdaws year starts with our course bookings in a healthy state. As you will know, much of our work is centred around the projects which we do with Somerset schools and has enabled 15,000 young people to participate in music making over the past five years; the coordination of our two flagship projects in 2017 is now in hand.

Firstly, we have embarked on the Year of the Recorder, which will see children from 10 schools works with inspirational, international Recorder duo Anna Stegmann and Tabea Debus. The project culminates in the recorder players, together with children performing on recorders and other instruments, in a Grand Finale Concert at the Cheese & Grain, Forme on Wednesday 22 March.

Meanwhile, our hugely successful, award-winning singing project OperaPLUS has already entered the rehearsal stage. This week, Artistic Director Saffron van Zwanenberg has been travelling to schools across Somerset to give introductory workshops on the songs and choruses of The Love Potion.

Music Teacher Awards OperaPLUSIn OperaPLUS, the instruments of “The Year of…” give way to voices and song; a highly talented group of young opera singers work with children in schools towards the presentation of five concerts in various locations around the county. The professional cast take the principle roles with the children joining in as chorus. 2017 sees a reworking of last year’s production of The Love Potion (L’elisir d’amore) by Donizetti, to celebrate the composers 220th Anniversary year, made accessible through staging set in a local context.

Both projects offer a once in lifetime opportunity for young people, some for the first time, to work with professional musicians of the highest standard. We hope to see you at a performance!

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.

Jackdaws logoExternal Links

Music Teacher Awards for Excellence Nominations

ClassicFM

BBC Radio Somerset

OperaPLUS Grand Tour

OperaPLUS Grand Tour

OperaPLUS Stylist of Somerset

Selfie!

News may have reached your ears that something exciting is brewing in the Stylist of Somerset’s salon…

It is true. OperaPLUS 2015 will be bigger and better – we are literally going further than ever before by packing our bags and hitting the road for a Grand Tour of Somerset.

The dates are set; the cast of OperaPLUS will return this April to recreate the highly acclaimed 2014 production of Stylist of Somerset on five dates in four locations across the length and breadth of the county.

The Stylist of Somerset is setting up his salon on the following dates:
20th April – Kingsmead, Wiveliscombe
21st April – Kingsmead, Wiveliscombe
23rd April – King Afred’s, Burnham-on-Sea
30th April – Vallis First School, Frome
1st May – King Arthur’s Community School, Wincanton

All performances take place at 5:30pm and tickets will cost £2/£1 concessions.
For tickets contact Jackdaws on 01373 812383 or music@jackdaws.org

2014 – Year in Review

2014 – Year in Review

The year 2014 at Jackdaws was a continuation and building upon the successes of 2013.

We have grown the OperaPLUS, Year of Guitar, Jack’s Music Club and continued to build on the success of previous years of the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards, Gifted & Talented sessions, Summer Production and more. Read on…

OperaPLUS

OperaPLUS 2014The first major education project of our year took place between 28 April and 9 May. A team of Young Artists from various music colleges around the country worked with Artistic Director Saffron van Zwanenberg and Music Director Audrey Hyland to put on two semi-staged performances of Rossini’s Barber of Seville. But, we are Jackdaws, and we like to do things a little differently…

Rossini’s reworked Stylist of Somerset was sung in English and involved no less than six schools over the two performances. The first performance, in Bridgwater, saw the Robert Blake Science College, Elmwood SEN and Penrose schools performing the chorus roles to a packed hall. This performance included an exciting depiction of a thunderstorm by the Elmwood pupils – an OperaPLUS first!

The second performance, at the Cheese & Grain in Frome, was to the largest audience ever for our OperaPLUS (we sold out, and then some!) Featuring Critchill SEN, St John’s and Hayesdown First schools, the Stylist of Somerset created a storm of its own, playing to audience who were happy to stand just to see it after the venue had sold out of chairs!

In 2015, The Stylist of Somerset will be hopping on a tour bus and performing a number of shows across region! This is a new adventure for the OperaPLUS project and Jackdaws as a whole. We are already hard at work to make sure it is a success; look out for the dates soon, we’d love you to join us.

Year of Guitar

Year of Guitar with Eden StellThe Year of Guitar followed from the hugely successful Year of the String Quartet with the Carducci in 2013 and precedes 2015’s Year of Percussion with Joby Burgess. Once again, every school in Frome took part with a record number of children participating.

On Friday 6 June, the massed ensemble of children from local schools with whom the Eden Stell Guitar Duo had worked met with the Duo again for a fantastic hour long performance at the Cheese & Grain. This year, Year of… was extended when we took a group of Frome College pupils to perform with Mark & Chris at the Sound Foundation Somerset Music Festival in Taunton on Sunday 13 July, and then again the next week at Later… with Frome College!

The Eden Stell Duo have been coming to Jackdaws to lead their annual Guitar weekend course since Jackdaws’ humble beginnings over 20 years ago. What a pleasure it was to celebrate their 25th anniversary with them in 2014 with this wonderful project. Heading into 2015, their course is an extra day longer than it has been before and has already sold out!

In 2015, the phenomenal Joby Burgess joins us for Year of Percussion and we are delighted to have already filled all the school places. For Year of Percussion, we are extending beyond Frome further into Somerset. More details will be released soon.

Jack’s and Theory Club

Jacks Music Club at JackdawsOur weekly music club has been running for a few years now but for the start of the 2014-15 academic year we added a new twist. Following from the 4:30-6pm music club is a new Theory club, led by Jackdaws team member Joshua Bishop. Each week he has covered a different aspect of music theory with the group using games, drawing and performing. We write music, we play music, we understand music.

If you’re amazed that teenagers would come of their own accord to a music theory club (on a Friday evening no less!), we are happy to reveal this top secret industry tip… provide cake from famous Jackdaws cooks!

Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards

Maureen Lehane Vocal Award Winners 2014The 2014 Maureen Lehane Vocal Award was the most closely contested competition of recent years. Ultimately, 25 year old Counter Tenor Patrick Terry triumphed.

Patrick, originally from Minneapolis, is pursuing his Master’s at the Royal Academy of Music with Michael Chance and is the only Counter Tenor to have won the Maureen Lahane.

We were privileged to have a distinguished judging panel consisting of Dame Felicity Palmer, Andrew Shore and Simon Lepper, chaired by Jackdaws Artistic Director Saffron van Zwanenberg.

Further to these successes, our Summer Production sold out both participants and the final performance, and produced a wonderful show of Animal Farm, with music in the style of Lutoslawski and design inspired by artist Gary Bunt. Our Christmas Concert sold out and was recorded with highlights broadcast on Christmas day by our friends at FromeFM. Gifted and Talented workshops also continued throughout the year, as did Singing Skills and Twilight Sessions.

After a restful holiday, we’re ready to go again. Roll on 2015 – we’ve got so much more to do!

Jackdaws at Somerset Festival

Jackdaws at Somerset Festival

OperaPLUS 2014Next Friday (11th July), Sound Foundation Somerset are staging a Music Festival in Taunton all weekend to Sunday 13th . Jackdaws will be taking highlights of their recent musical projects including The Year of Guitar and OperaPLUS.

The Year of Guitar was led by the Eden Stell Duo who worked with 14 schools across Somerset and performed a finale concert in the Cheese and Grain Frome on June 6th this year. Some of the schools that took part in the Project, Frome Community College and Selwood Academy will be accompanying the Duo to the festival and will be performing at 12:00pm on the Sunday at Somerset Square.

OperaPLUS have been focusing on the style of Gioacchino Rossini, an Italian Opera composer and the group will be performing a piece called ‘The Stylist of Somerset’ a production set in the style of popular television Talent Shows. The performance will be 1:20pm to 2:00pm in the Brewhouse. At 4:00pm there will be a Flash Mob in Goodlands Garden with Saffron and the singers. The Flash Mob will be a new and exciting experience for all who are involved so it would be great to turn up and show your support.

Keep up to date with all that’s happening at the Festival by visiting the Sound Foundation Somerset website and looking out for any updates on our website.

Written by Isaac Mundy, work experience student from Frome College.

The Stylist of Somerset – “Pure magic!”

The Stylist of Somerset – “Pure magic!”

“Sometimes something quite exceptional can happen when you’re least expecting it… Thank you. Encore. Encore.” – Jo Woodward

Thursday 8th and Friday 9th May saw something quite exceptional happen involving children from 6 Somerset schools, 6 Jackdaws Young Artists and a Rossini opera.

Jackdaws annual OperaPLUS project culminated two weeks of intense rehearsals and workshops with performances of “The Stylist of Somerset” (also known as Rossini’s Barber of Seville) at Robert Blake Science College, Bridgwater and the Cheese & Grain, Frome with children singing as part of the opera performance.

Three schools were involved in each performance – Robert Blake, Elmwood and Penrose in Bridgwater and Critchill, Hayesdown and St John’s in Frome.

“All the children were fully engaged both as performers and as onlookers.” – Alan Burgess

OperaPLUS RehearsalsIn the two weeks preceding the shows, six Jackdaws Young Artists – all currently studying at one of the major British Music Conservatoires – led workshops with children at all six schools and Jack’s Music Club, working with the children on the part they would play and teaching the songs they later sang in the production.

The opera selected was Rossini’s opera buffa Barber of Seville, which was given a fresh and exciting spin and renamed “The Stylist of Somerset“. Based on popular TV talent shows, the evil Dr Bartolo was compared with a certain infamous judge with Rosina as his next star talent, Almaviva is a Pop star and, of course, Figaro is the best stylist in all of Somerset! Alan Burgess, headteacher of St John’s School who participated, said “Perhaps the greatest testimony of the production’s success was evidenced in the faces of everyone watching: they were enthralled from start to finish.

The performance was enjoyed by performers, children, parents and teachers alike.

“I am sure that neither of our sons (our 10 year old was in the audience with us) would have chosen to watch an opera with us. But they, like us were gripped from the very start.” – Kelly Newton

2014 is the 5th year that the OperaPLUS project has taken place. Previous years have seen productions of The Magic Flute, La Cenerentola and Semele, each time involving schools as far afield as Dulverton and Bridgwater.
As a parent I am feeling so very fortunate to have been able to share with my child in such an experience; as I felt so very much part of it as he did.” Charlotte Deniz Sanches

Jackdaws Artistic Director Saffron van Zwanenberg addressed the audience immediately after the Frome performance, saying “It’s really very simple… Bring it to them and they love it.

Funder Logos

Read our introduction to the Stylist of Somerset.

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