Opera North’s Belle Isle project wins award


Opera North’s flagship music education project, In Harmony Opera North, has won the award for ‘Best Classical Music Education Initiative’ at the Music Teacher Awards, sponsored by Classic FM.

In Harmony CelloIn Harmony Opera North launched in January 2013 and is the only In Harmony programme that is delivered by an opera company. The project focuses on the children and wider school community of Windmill Primary School in the Belle Isle area of Leeds, aiming to transform aspirations and learning outcomes for children through an immersive programme of high quality music tuition, and regular performance opportunities.

To date, the project has been a journey of musical discovery for the 400 children and staff of Windmill Primary, from picking up their musical instruments for the first time to performing at Leeds Town Hall with the Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North less than one year later, in a concert conducted by Opera North’s music director, Richard Farnes.

The Best Classical Music Education Initiative Award honours an education project which has used classical music in an innovative way, shown musical excellence and had a positive impact on a significant number of participants. Held in conjunction with Music Education Expo 2014, the awards evening was held on Friday 7 February 2014 at the Barbican, London.

Rebecca Walsh, director of education at Opera North, said:

“We are delighted to have received this award for the work of In Harmony Opera North and I believe this is testament to the growing success of the In Harmony model. It would not be possible to deliver this project without the support and involvement of our colleagues at Windmill Primary School, who all thoroughly deserve this recognition for their hard work, passion and dedication, as well as the inspiring enthusiasm and aptitude displayed by the children and parents involved.”

Opera_North_Logo_BlackIn Harmony Opera North gives opportunities to children in an underprivileged area of Leeds and has a powerful impact on their social skills and development. In Harmony Opera North includes a significant focus on singing as well as playing instruments, which accelerates the children’s musical learning and improves their confidence.

As well as the work in school, In Harmony runs a community choir each Friday lunchtime. The choir is open to anyone in the community, there are no auditions and it’s free. The choir meets at 12:15pm at Parkside Rugby Clubhouse, off Belle Isle Road.

The inspirational project is funded by Arts Council England and the Department for Education. It represents a substantial investment in the Belle Isle area of Leeds, which is among the most deprived in the country and is the only In Harmony project in Yorkshire. Funding for the project is until 2015, with the hope of life beyond this dependent on future investment.