A group of 30 talented singers from Opera North’s Youth Chorus headed to Denmark to open the first GrowOP! Opera Festival for children and teenagers as part of Aarhus 2017’s European Capital of Culture programme. Here they share their experience of performing as part of a European Capital of Culture programme.
On 9th November, Opera North Youth Chorus met with Danish National Opera’s TalentU in Aarhus to collaborate on an innovative work called ‘New Beginnings’. The piece included choruses from operas and musicals alongside a selection of new pieces which the young people aged 14 to 19 composed under the guidance of Michael Betteridge, a Manchester-based composer, conductor and animateur.
The first two days in Aarhus were filled with rehearsals and amazing food! The group also had a free morning to do a bit of sightseeing and were really impressed with the ARoS Aarhus Art Museum and its rainbow panorama which offered amazing views of the surrounding city.
After a couple of days of hard work staging ‘New Beginnings’ and fine tuning the songs under the baton of Nick Shaw, Opera North Youth Chorus Master, young singers from Leeds and Aarhus opened the GrowOp! Festival with two performances which took place at Dokk1, the public library and culture centre in Aarhus.
The next day, the Opera North Youth Chorus headed to Herning for more acclaimed performances before heading back to Leeds.
Lydia was one of the performers in the Youth Chorus and had this to say of her tiem in Aarhus: “I think the best thing about the entire trip was the fact that it was an incredible and unique opportunity for me to be involved in as I’ve never taken part in anything like this before. I was able to bond with so many people in the chorus and really enjoyed collaborating and working with TalentU. Above all else, the aspect that I liked most about the trip was that we were able to perform to younger audiences and expose them to opera and share our passion for it, which I strongly believe is vital if we are to keep this wonderful art in existence in the future”.
“I was very impressed with the libraries and the amount of dedication put into them – I wasn’t expecting them to be as large and busy as they were, and loved the fact that people passing by were engaged and interested in watching us perform. I felt that the performances went really well given that we only rehearsed completely together as a group for 2 days before the performances and I hope the audiences liked it as much as we did performing it.”
When asked about how she feels about Leeds potentially becoming the next European City of Culture in 2023, Lydia responded: “I really hope Leeds becomes the next European City of Culture! I think it would be a great way for us to show off what a wonderful city Leeds is and all of the culture and diversity it has to offer”.
Jacqui Cameron, Education Director for Opera North, said: “We were delighted to be able to give our Youth Chorus the opportunity to explore new cultures and different approaches to music through our involvement with the inaugural GrowOP! Festival. Not only did the young people get the chance to work with their Danish counterparts, but they also experienced the thrill of opening the festival. It also felt very fitting to be performing in the current European City of Culture at a time when our home city of Leeds is bidding for that honour in 2023.”