Opera North today announces a new In Harmony partnership with a school in Leeds, impacting on 450 children in full-time education and the wider community. The pioneering project, one of four new In Harmony community development projects announced today, will be funded by the Arts Council England, the Department for Education and Opera North over three years between 2012 and 2015.
Opera North will deliver the project at Windmill Primary School, in the Belle Isle area of South Leeds, from January 2013. It is the first In Harmony project in Yorkshire and the only one nationally that will be delivered by an opera company.
Leeds In Harmony will focus on the children and wider school community of Windmill Primary, aiming to transform aspirations and learning outcomes for children through a programme of high quality music tuition and regular performance opportunities. The school, where 92% of children come from families classified as ‘hard-pressed’ and 60% are eligible for free school meals, was selected through extensive consultation with the Local Education Authority, based on the potential to create the greatest impact for children and their families.
All 300 children in Windmill Primary School will take part in transformational music activities, both within curriculum time and as free extra-curricular activities. From the outset, all Year 1-6 pupils will have the opportunity to play in an orchestra and receive their own instrument. For younger children, the focus will initially be on daily singing activities, which will develop musicianship skills.
Other workshops and outreach activities will range from a community choir to pop-up performances by musicians from the Orchestra of Opera North in shops and living rooms, extending the reach of In Harmony throughout the local community to include adults and older children. Opera North intends to focus on music-making within the family and will also deliver sessions for parents and 0-4 year olds in Windmill Children’s Centre. More than 150 secondary school pupils from the area will also take part.
In Harmony is a national programme in England, based on the very successful El Sistema programme of children and youth orchestras in Venezuela, which aims to inspire and transform the lives of children in deprived communities using the power and disciplines of community-based orchestral music-making.
Pilot In Harmony projects in England have previously been delivered in Liverpool, London and Norwich. The project, inspired by the huge success of El Sistema, is chaired by cellist Julian Lloyd-Webber. The desired outcomes for children, in addition to the development of musical skills, are improved wellbeing, self-confidence and social skills, and improved attainment in literacy and numeracy.