In Harmony Opera North is a Community Residency programme taking place at six schools in south Leeds; it involves over 1800 children in full-time education. As the only In Harmony project that is delivered by an opera company, it includes a focus on singing and other elements that make up the operatic artform, as well as instrument playing.
In Harmony Opera North seeks to deliver an inclusive programme of high quality music education and performance opportunities in order to encourage young people from all backgrounds to engage with the arts and, through doing so, benefit from a range of wider outcomes.
The programme aims to raise aspirations, increase expectations, and use group music-making as a way of developing the following skills and attributes in its participants: communication (namely listening, teamwork and respect), confidence and self-worth, creative problem solving, adaptability and perseverance.
Since Spring 2013, In Harmony Opera North has centred around the children and community of Windmill Primary School in Belle Isle, south Leeds. In September 2015 Low Road Primary School in Hunslet was absorbed into the programme; in the summer of 2017, 5 pupils from Low Road Primary School performed as part of the children’s chorus in Opera North’s widely acclaimed Turandot. Opera North additionally began delivering the In Harmony programme at New Bewerley Community School, Beeston, in September 2016, with Richmond Hill Academy in Cross Green becoming the fourth In Harmony school in September 2018.
In 2019, In Harmony Opera North started running after school sessions at The Ruth Gorse Academy to ensure pupils’ musical talents continue to be nurtured when they transition to secondary school. 2019 also saw the start of a two-year collaboration with The Stephen Longfellow Academy which works with students who are struggling to maintain a full-time place in mainstream education.
In Harmony Opera North offers young people regular music making activities both within curriculum time and as extra-curricular activity. All pupils in Year 2-6 participate in small group instrumental lessons and play in an orchestra during curriculum time every week. Every child sings in an age banded choir every week, and each primary school hosts an extracurricular weekly choir and instrumental practice club. From September 2017, senior school students join a junior orchestra at Opera North.
In Harmony participants take part in workshops and performances with musicians from the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North throughout the academic year, study themes from Opera North’s programme within the school curriculum, and attend at least one of the company’s productions every year. All participants perform to family and friends on a termly basis.
Additional In Harmony Opera North community-based activity includes early years sessions, a community choir and performances by tutors and participants in a variety of local settings