In Harmony Opera North is a Community Residency programme taking place at three schools in south Leeds; it involves over 1100 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 art form, 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, south Leeds, was absorbed into the In Harmony Opera North 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. In September 2016 Opera North additionally began delivering the In Harmony programme at New Bewerley Community School, Beeston, south Leeds.
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.
The In Harmony programme continues to be an essential ingredient in ensuring the future success of our pupils. It continues to define our identity and ethos, and enriches the social, moral, spiritual and cultural aspects of our curriculum in a way that no other project can match. It has brought communities together and acts as the unifying thread in the tapestry of our ongoing achievements. Levels of parental engagement have soared over the term of the project and relationships across our school communities are fantastic. My pupils exude pride and passion for the In Harmony programme. Long may it continue to change lives for the better.
— Andy Gamble, Executive Headteacher, Low Road and Windmill Music Federation
In Harmony is a national programme that aims to inspire and transform the lives of children in deprived communities, using the power and disciplines of ensemble music-making. The programme, funded by the Department for Education and Arts Council England, has ongoing projects in Lambeth, Liverpool, Newcastle Gateshead, Nottingham, and Telford and Stoke in addition to In Harmony Opera North.
In Harmony Opera North is generously funded by:
Arts Council England/ Department for Education
In Harmony Ambassadors:
The Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation
The Charles and Elsie Sykes Trust
In Harmony Supporter:
Evans Property Group
The Whitaker Charitable Trust
Top: A pupil peers inside a violin during an instrument-making workshop. Photo: Tom Arber
Bottom: In Harmony Opera North participants perform at Leeds Town Hall with the Orchestra of Opera North. Photo: Jonny Walton/Kaptur.