Former Students Bring Opera to a New Audience

Two of our former students are collaborating to bring opera to a new audience – and they need your help!

David Rose and Joe Houseman both left Thirsk Sixth Form College in 2015 to study at university. After graduation the pair are now hoping to share their passion for opera with young people in our area.

Their project ‘The Pheasant: An Outreach Opera’ is intended to provide young people from across North Yorkshire with the opportunity to work and perform alongside talented students from the Royal Academy of Music in a contemporary opera. The team aim to bring a soprano, a tenor, and twenty instrumentalists from the Royal Academy of Music up to Harrogate to work alongside young people from across the region, with the opera being premiered in Autumn 2020. David and Joe (pictured with the Mayor and Mayoress of Harrogate, who are supporting the project) have been working closely with the Royal Academy of Music, the North Yorkshire County Music Service and Harrogate Stagecoach, as well as establishing relationships and connections with local comprehensive schools, youth music charities and local festivals.

David, who recently graduated from the Royal Academy of Music, has composed the score and co-written the libretto with Joe, who is now a writer and postgraduate student at University College London.  He told us, “Both Joe and I are not only really passionate about contemporary art, but also strongly believe that young people from our home county should have better access to it.” Joe said, ‘Both David and I know from our own childhoods how difficult it is for young people to access contemporary art, music, and performance. We intend to provide these young people with an experience that otherwise wouldn’t be available.’

David has been keen to involve the young people in creating his score for the opera and has been workshopping various musical ideas with them since March. The students were actively involved and encouraged to make suggestions to shape the material he gave them. The pair have also been delivering workshops at a County Music Centre and Harrogate Stagecoach since March. The Head of the Music Service in North Yorkshire, Ian Bangay, has supported the project since its inception and is excited about the opportunity it will provide to young people from across the region. Stagecoach drama teacher Ann Percival told us, ‘Giving the young people the experience of being soaked up in the atmosphere of live theatre is something that will live with them forever’.

The performances will take place in Harrogate in the Autumn of 2020. Mayor Stuart Martin is eager for the project to succeed saying, ‘I think the people of the district would love it and welcome it!’.

The Pheasant Opera project is being supported by the Royal Academy of Music through their new ‘SoundCrowd’ funding platform, which helps bring together musicians and composers with the funders who can make their visions a reality. If you are in a position to support David and Joe, or you would like to find out more, visit their SoundCrowd page or watch their video on YouTube.