Final performances for English Pocket Opera Company’s national tour of over 40 United Learning schools
Last week saw the final performances of an exciting national tour, which has brought opera direct to students across the country, take place in Yorkshire schools.
Launched in London on 29 January, the tour was a partnership between United Learning, and the English Pocket Opera Company (EPOC) and was organised as part of our United Music initiative. The tour included over 40 performances in total – bringing opera to 7,500 students in United Learning schools – and culminated with four performances across Yorkshire last week.
On Thursday 10 March, EPOC performed for staff and students at John Smeaton Academy in Leeds and then again at Barnsley Academy. On the very final day of the tour on Friday 11 March, Sheffield Park Academy and Sheffield Springs Academy each hosted a performance and welcomed primary pupils from nearby High Hazels Academy to join them.
As part of the tour, United Learning students were treated to a performance of ‘Opera Blocks’; an engaging, interactive show designed to break down the building blocks of opera. Students were introduced to the three basic ingredients of opera – action, words and music – and were taught the more technical side of the music, for example the use of libretto, arias and choruses.
The students, many of whom were experiencing live opera for the very first time, commented on how much they enjoyed the performance. One student said that it was a welcome change from modern-day pop artists such as Justin Bieber and One Direction.
Nikki Shaw, Executive Principal at Barnsley Academy, said of the performance:
‘EPOC put on a fantastic show that really engaged staff and students and helped to broaden everyone’s horizons, introducing them to something that, for many, they wouldn’t normally experience.’
Louise Pleasance, Performing Arts Teacher at Sheffield Park Academy, commented:
‘What a fantastic way to introduce our students to opera. Everyone involved, students and staff alike, had a great time and learnt a lot about an art form many had never encountered.’
Sheffield Springs Academy student Holly said:
‘I enjoyed the performance because it was so interactive. I also liked joining in on stage as I like performing so I wanted to get involved. I would definitely go to see an opera performance now.’
Another student from Sheffield Springs Academy, Tyreece, said:
‘Performing in the opera was a bit nerve-wracking because I have never done that before. It was good to do something different.’