Six lead artists have been announced for the return of Opera North’s Resonance residencies over the coming months, developing new ideas in workshops and work in progress performances in Leeds, with the support of PRS Foundation.
Launched in 2017, Resonance offers time, space and resources to professional artists from BAME backgrounds working in any genre of music and based in the North of England, to take their work in new directions, to experiment with collaborators and new ideas, and to test the results in front of audiences.
The Hull-based British-Egyptian mezzo soprano will bring the traditions of Arabic song and western opera together into performance, informed by her professional experience which ranges from opera, oratorio, lieder and contemporary composition, to Arabic and Sephardic traditional song. Her collaborators include composer and former principal nay player in the Orchestra of the Cairo Opera House Mina Mikhael Salama, and Guy Schalom, a percussionist who specialises in Arabic and klezmer music. “Being awarded the time and space to explore the possibility of fusing Arabic and western classical song is such a wonderful opportunity for me to delve more deeply into my cultural heritage”, Camille comments. “I am honoured to be collaborating with Mina and Guy, and hope we can devise something that will engage and inspire a wide audience.”
Born in South Africa and now living in Manchester, the award-winning cellist’s ambition is nothing less than to redefine his instrument. He will work on original solo music for the cello that reimagines or is influenced by different stringed instruments from the African continent, including the gonji (Ghanaian violin), the berimbau, a single-string percussion instrument, the West African kora and the Ghanain kologo lute. He will work closely with specialist musicians including Sidiki Dembele, a master of the West African djembe, ngoni and kora.
The Leeds multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and singer works with a blend of Nu Jazz, Neo-Soul, and New Age music. Her work in progress, The Velvet Room, is a ‘live music performance triptych’ that features her band, Pariss & The Presence, interacting with projection mapped visuals and animation by visual artist Natasha Joseph. “I’m excited to see an idea that I have had since I began my singer-songwriter career take shape”, says Pariss. “I never thought I would get the time and space to seriously work on the visual aspect of my work”.
The Sheffield-based composer, vocalist and film maker will continue his journey into theatre-making with the lives of three characters, rapper, a poet and an actor, charted through an overlapping combination of hip hop, acoustic and classical score. “I have worked in poetry and rap since I was 18, but writing is my passion, no matter the method of delivery”, says Dan. “More recently I have turned my attention to developing my narrative skills through films and plays. My Resonance residency will give me the chance to explore musical storytelling further in the form of a new theatre show loosely based on my life, both as a musician and as a flawed individual, balancing true stories, musical commentary and themes of escapism.”
Leeds-based tabla player, producer and educator will develop his unique vision for a coming together of Indian classical Kathak dance, tap dance, percussion and electronic production. “Tabla and Tap is an exciting exploration of two polar cultures, heritages and languages”, he says. “The intricacies of tabla and the power of tap will create a rhythmically charged yet expressive visual and musical experience”.
The Leeds-based writer-director will develop a narrative centred around music, dance and community. 3NEGUS stages the story of three young men, Azizi, Lara and Kareem, through their struggles to bring up a baby, keep a roof over their heads, and stay in full-time education. His collaborators on the project will include singer-songwriter, producer and composer Christella Litras, whose soundtrack for a full-length animated film began life in the first round of Resonance residencies in 2018; and singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Pariss Elektra from the latest cohort of artists.
Among the alumni of the previous two Resonance instalments in 2018 and 2019 who have continued to develop their projects, singer and songwriter Nishla Smith closes a national tour of her multimedia song cycle What Happened to Agnes with a date at Interplay Theatre, Leeds on 6 March. Huddersfield-based singer songwriter Thabo will continue to develop his multi-sensory work involving fragrance, light and music through a residency at Snape Maltings, and Errollyn Wallen and Brolly Productions’ opera The Powder Monkey is due for a second tour this autumn. Composer, rapper and MC Testament’s new musical that tells the story of Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to run for the office of President of the USA, recently spent a further week in research and development at Leeds College of Music with a full mixed cast of professionals and students.
Thandanani Gumede, who worked on his Zulu Song Cycle during the first residency programme, led workshops and coaching for Opera North’s People’s Lullabies project last summer, and will return this year to draw together a further series. His Song Cycle continues to evolve, and was performed in its latest state at a Manchester Jazz Festival Hothouse showcase before Christmas. Sitarist and composer Jasdeep Singh Degun, who was Music Director on South Asian Arts-uk’s commemoration of the centenary of the Partition of India and Pakistan, the first Resonance project to reach completion, performed the world premiere of Arya, his new sitar concerto, with the Orchestra of Opera North in February.
The Resonance programme is supported by the PRS Foundation’s Talent Development Partnership. The UK’s leading funder of new music and talent development, PRS Foundation supports organisations working at the frontline of talent development with a broad range of individual music creators. This reflects PRS Foundation’s commitment to supporting composers and songwriters of all backgrounds and genres, through direct investment or by helping organisations which nurture artists and promote their music. Opera North is one of 45 Talent Development Partners for 2019-20.
Take a look inside our previous workshops with a series of short films on Resonance: