News & Features

Give the Gift of Harmony this Christmas


This Christmas, Opera North is calling for charitable donations to support the work of its award-winning Community Residency programme, In Harmony Opera North, giving a child the lifelong gift of music.

  • £10 could give one child a year’s worth of music books
  • £50 could give one child a week’s tuition at Opera North Orchestra Camp
  • £150 could give one child their own violin
  • £500 could give one child their own cello

Support for the campaign will help bring the In Harmony programme to more young people and adults in socio-economically disadvantaged communities in Leeds and Hull. The programme uses music to enrich the lives of over 1,100 pupils across three primary schools in south Leeds each week, raising aspirations and attainment and developing communication skills.

Lots of people don’t expect a lot from us, but because we have been given this opportunity and we play instruments it’s changed what people think. People see us in a different light.

— Helen, In Harmony Opera North

Every In Harmony child learns to sing, and to play a wind, brass or stringed instrument in weekly small group lessons. There are orchestra and choir sessions each week, and a choice of after-school activities including chamber choirs, and practice clubs for string instrument players and for wind and brass. Teachers and other staff often learn an instrument alongside the pupils, making it a genuinely inclusive experience within the school setting.

Elysha fell in love with music from the moment she was given her first cello to play at the age of seven. With the encouragement of her In Harmony teachers, she auditioned for Yorkshire Young Musicians and was offered a grant-assisted place:

In Harmony … truly changed my life. I would like to thank all of my music teachers for supporting me and giving me this wonderful opportunity, for pushing me to be the best I can and having belief in me. 

Learning to play and sing in ensembles has had many unforeseen benefits, with the schools noticing an improvement in the pupils’ confidence, perseverance, respect for each other, problem-solving and focus.

It is my belief that the cultural enrichment provided by the In Harmony programme has had a direct impact on the positive learning culture and subsequently contributed towards improved academic results.

— Andy Gamble, Executive Headteacher, Low Road & Windmill Music Federation

Many In Harmony pupils go on to become members of the Opera North Children’s Chorus or attend Opera North Orchestra Camp which is held during the school holidays and culminates in a performance with the Orchestra of Opera North.

In Harmony is a really important part of my life. We are so lucky to have it at our school and to come and play with the Opera North Orchestra at camp. I’m going to be a professional cello player one day!

— Rebecca, In Harmony Opera North and Orchestra Camp attendee

A community-based In Harmony Opera North programme is also being established on the Thornton Estate in Hull. Working in partnership with The Goodwin Trust, Opera North aims to run regular weekly music-making and singing sessions for residents, helping in the development of a vibrant arts community.

People wishing to support In Harmony Opera North in its on-going work can make a donation online at or by calling Opera North on 0113 223 3553.

Photo Credits:
Singing at Trinity Leeds - Jonny Walton
In Harmony Instrument Workshop - Tom Arber

In Harmony Opera North End-of-Year Concert - Justin Slee

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