The start of the week has been transformed for some older residents in Batley and Morley, thanks to Opera North’s pioneering Sing ON sessions which encourage active involvement in culture and the arts into retirement and beyond.
These classes have turned dour dreary Mondays into delightful Mondays.
— Sing ON participant
Sing ON is led by a team of professional artists who aim to create a relaxed, friendly environment where people over 55 can experience the joy of singing as part of a group, while making new friends and having the opportunity to take part in cultural activities in their local area. Plenty of time is also given each week for a cup of tea and chance to chat.
People of all abilities are welcome. No experience is necessary and there is no requirement to be able to read music. Taking into account the wishes and ability of all the participants, the repertoire ranges from traditional songs from around the world to arias and excerpts from both popular and lesser-known operas. During recent sessions, the Batley group made the decision to challenge themselves by tackling a piece from Rimsky-Korsakov's The Snow Maiden, which was one of the operas in Opera North's Winter fairy tale season, alongside some lighter, less demanding pieces.
In May, both groups came together to sing excerpts from Turandot alongside the Chorus of Opera North, following a special two hour masterclass led by Matt Roughley, Opera North Choral Delivery Artist. They were also able to experience at first hand a Chorus of Opera North rehearsal.
What a great afternoon. It was really uplifting. What voices!
Thank you for an unforgettable, amazing experience.
— Sing ON participants
Sing ON has now become a regular fixture for many older residents who appreciate the chance to share their passion for music with others:
It's absolute fun with no pressure... very friendly.
Very enjoyable — confidence building.
I enjoy every minute of these sessions and always look forward to Mondays.
— Sing ON participants
Sessions are currently held every Monday from 10.00am to 11.00am in the Morelian Room at Morley Town Hall and from 2.00pm to 3.30pm at Batley Central Methodist Church. There is a small charge to attend. Two taster sessions are also going to be held in July when anyone over 55 is welcome to come along, free of charge, and have a go at singing in a group. All that's required is enthusiasm and a willingness to join in. The first is at St Barnabas Church in Alwoodley on Tuesday 25 July from 10.15am to 11.45am, with a second that afternoon in the New Room at Oakwood Church from 3.00pm to 4.30pm. Refreshments will be provided.
If you are interested in coming along to a taster session, joining an existing Sing ON group or would like Opera North to establish one in your locality, please contact Hayley.McColl@operanorth.co.uk
Photo credit: Justin Slee