From couch to chorus: Opera North launches new digital choir

Photo credit: Opera North
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Anyone who has been missing their usual singing group during lockdown, or who fancies having a go at mastering opera from the comfort of their living room, can look forward to this summer’s launch of a new digital choir by Opera North.

Starting in July, Opera North will be running four weekly Zoom sessions, which they’re calling ‘From Couch to Chorus’. Participants will get to work with members of the chorus of Opera North and will be taught operatic excerpts by a professional choral director. Each hour-long session will be specifically prepared for soprano, alto, tenor and bass voices. No previous experience or ability to read music is required and if you’re not sure where your voice fits, they’ll help you decide which session to join.

By the end, the choir will be able to sing choruses from Bizet’s Carmen and Smetana’s The Bartered Bride, as well as the rousing Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves from Verdi’s Nabucco. These are all firm favourites for opera lovers and will be exciting pieces to sing. In the final workshop, singers from all vocal parts will join together online to perform a full virtual chorus on 12 August.

The idea for the project grew out of the popularity of ‘Sing ON’ and forms part of Opera North’s education programme. These weekly face-to-face singing sessions were held in a variety of venues around Leeds prior to the current restrictions. The education team have continued to deliver these online, with the feedback showing how much they have been appreciated by people who might otherwise feel lonely and isolated during lockdown.

“Thank you so much for the wonderful Sing ON sessions which I’ve been Zooming on Mondays. I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy singing on my own in front of a screen but amazingly I do! I feel like part of a group even though I don’t recognise any of the other people. I was really missing having a good sing so really appreciate what you’re doing.”

Participant, Sing ON

Opera North says that a variety of resources will be used to help people master the basics of opera quickly and easily, whether they have previously sung with a group or not, and a Zoom recording will be sent to the participants after each workshop. Open to all, the sessions will work on a pay-as-you-feel basis. The education programme is kindly supported by the Emerald Foundation.

Jacqui Cameron, education director at Opera North, said:

“With this project, we aim to give everyone a taste of what it’s like to be a member of an operatic chorus, learning exciting repertoire and developing singing skills as part of a group. In these times of social distancing, we’re not able to hold the sessions face-to-face, but we know from our experience with Sing ON, that participants still find it uplifting to be part of a virtual choir.

“Holding From Couch to Chorus online will give people a chance to sing with friends who live in other areas and who they may not be able to see at the moment – and to make new ones from across the country and further afield.”

More information on taking part in this initiative is available HERE.

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