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Opera North seeks BAME artists for Resonance residencies

We’re seeking applications from music-makers and composers from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds living in the north of England for our third programme of Resonance residencies, supported by PRS Foundation.


Launched in 2017, Resonance offers professional musicians and composers working in any genre the opportunity to develop new ideas, to collaborate with performers from other disciplines and to take their work in new directions.

Successful applicants for the new round of residencies will receive up to a week of free rehearsal space in central Leeds in March and April 2020, a grant of up to £3,500 to cover fees for those involved and other costs, support and advice from technicians, producers and other specialists, and an optional ‘work in progress’ performance. The structure and support provided will be tailored to the particular needs of each artist.

In an interview recorded after his spring 2019 residency, Zimbabwean singer Thabo talks about how Resonance helped him to develop his innovative new multi-sensory performance involving music, visuals and a series of scents:

“Resonance provided an ideal framework for me to explore a new direction in my music making”, said jazz singer and songwriter Nishla Smith, whose song cycle was developed during another of the most recent residencies. “The programme combined extensive support and resources with the freedom to push myself and explore new ideas. I created a major new piece of work, and formed strong collaborative relationships with associate artists that I might not have had the confidence to develop otherwise. Since the residency I’ve had offers for the show to be performed more widely through the UK, and I am now pitching it to festivals and venues.”

What Happened to Agnes, which explores the disappearance of Nishla’s great aunt in 1930s Malaysia through songs, performance and visuals, is already slated for a further period of development and scratch performance as part of Furnace Festival at Leeds Playhouse in November.

Infused with the sounds of classic 60s soul, composer, rapper and MC Testament‘s new musical telling the story of Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to run for the office of President of the USA, was also workshopped in the spring. “Securing amazing facilities and space, positive and open support and expertise to link in with has been really key for my development in the world of musical theatre”, he said.

Classically-trained singer Keertan Kaur Rehal used her residency to bring the ghazal, the traditional South Asian art-song, into the 21st century, in collaboration with performance poet Jaspreet Kaur aka Behind the Netra and eminent tabla player and poetry expert Shahbaz Hussain. Completing the 2019 cohort, vocalist Sarah Yaseen combined Sufi influence with painting, film and theatrical performance to narrate her path towards freedom and identity.

To apply for a residency as part of Resonance 2020, artists should fill in the short form and submit it by 10am on Monday 14 October 2019. To qualify for consideration, the lead artist must be a professional composer, musician or music maker from a BAME background, aged 18 years old or over and living in the north of England.


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