The concept of home has come to the fore since the pandemic began and people have found themselves spending more time in their immediate locality. Opera North Young Creatives were better placed than many for this change, having already created two films inspired by where they lived.
The starting point was Kurt Weill’s Street Scene, which was on tour when COVID-19 struck. Taking the theme of place from Weill’s work, the project looked at what the word meant to the Young Creatives in two of Opera North’s touring venues – Newcastle and Nottingham – as well as a group in Moscow.
The young people then worked with a composer and choral delivery artist to create and film their own YOUR_Street Scene videos, celebrating what they felt defined their home cities.
Seventeen 8 to 14-year-olds met in Newcastle city centre to make their film which features such iconic landmarks as St. James’ Park and the Tyne Bridge. In the weekly sessions, the young people learnt new ways to be creative and develop their musical skills, such as reading and interpreting a score, vocal technique, communication and expression. All of these elements helped the group to understand how to create a piece of music and fed into their composition workshops with composer James Garner.
“So much of our heritage lies in music and music can tell us a lot about the people and place where we live. In this project, it gave the young people a real connection to music as they were singing about topics and places they could relate to – and I’m sure they felt a stronger connection to their hometown as a result.”
– Jennifer Sterling, Choral Delivery Artist
The Young Creatives in Nottingham also used the cityscape as their inspiration. They chose to capture the statues and civic buildings which were important to them on film, while reflecting on why they feel lucky to live where they do.
“Especially in creative and innovative education, I think we rightly believe there’s inherent value in encouraging people to express their personality, passions and struggles. I think we should equally encourage people to examine, express and celebrate their cultural identities: their relationship to where they call home.”
– James Garner, composer
The project took an unexpected turn following a meeting between Jacqui Cameron, Opera North’s Education Director, and Alisa Spirina from Moscow’s Stanislaviski Theatre. Alisa was so impressed with what the Young Creatives had achieved that she invited the team to deliver the project with her newly-established Education Department, thereby giving it an international profile.
“This was our first experience of composing music together with young people, and the whole process seemed absolutely magical to everyone. To everyone’s surprise, although we were working between two languages, it felt like there was a perfect understanding. I hope there will be many more collaborations in the future.”
– Alisa Spirina, Stanislaviski Theatre
Find out more about how young people can get involved with Opera North through our Youth Ensembles and other activities.
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