We’re delighted to release five ‘People’s Lullabies’, featuring participants in our Community Partnerships Scheme in Leeds and West Yorkshire, in the form of short films to mark the inaugural World Opera Day today.
We currently engage with more than 100 community groups and organisations to open up our performances to people who have barriers that might prevent them from experiencing them. Every year, six Community Partners are selected to receive special offers, workshops and performances in their own venues.
Each of the five People’s Lullabies is performed by a person who engages with one our current Community Partners in Leeds, Bradford and the surrounding area. The process began with workshops at each of the organisations, run by Leeds-based South African singer Thandanani Gumede and pianist, arranger and educator Dave Evans, who performed some of their own music and encouraged everyone who attended to share their favourite songs.
Each song was chosen by the singer for its significance to them, and each performance was filmed at a charity’s premises, or a place of special relevance. A common thread running through all of the films is the power of music to recall distant places, times and loved ones. It’s a theme that resonates with the aim of World Opera Day to celebrate the positive impact and value of music for society, in developing tolerance and understanding, opening minds and connecting people with universal emotions.
Mother, Father and Child by Mary
Mary, who attends the Refugees and Asylum Seekers’ Conversation Club, was filmed singing a traditional Nigerian song at the charity’s base in historic Mill Hill Chapel, central Leeds. “They understand the needs of refugees and asylum seekers and they help with transportation, employment, medical needs, everything”, Mary says. “You come in, you interact with people, you make friends and if you’re thinking your problem is severe, you talk to other people and you think, ‘Oh, I’m not the only one’”.
Rood, Wit, Blauw and Hoedje van Papier by Dalton
Dalton, a former resident of Ripon House Bail and Probation Hostel, sings two Dutch children’s songs that he learned from his mother, who also passed on her love of books, having worked as a head librarian in her native Holland. “I sometimes sang to myself in my cell”, Dalton says, “and I thought to myself, this can get me through anything, just like when she sang to me when I was poorly.
“When my mother was near death I was allowed to talk to her on the phone. Not seeing her, I didn’t know how ill she was, and I said, ‘I’m going to sing you a song because you’re poorly now’, and she laughed. That was the second to last phone call I had with her before I was told that she was gone.” Dalton explains that he chose Leeds Central Library as the setting for his Lullabies because “when I got out, I came straight down here and joined, and I’ve been coming here pretty much every day since. So in a way that’s her legacy, that’s part of me now, and hopefully you, because you’re listening.”
Fetewetey | ፈቱውተይ by Thomas
Thomas, who attends Bradford Immigration and Asylum Seekers Support and Advice Network, sings an Eritrean pop song at the Deaf Centre, Bradford, where BIASAN runs its sessions.
Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral (That’s an Irish Lullaby) by Sean and Paul
Caring for Life’s Drama Project Leader Sean, and Paul, a regular attender, perform Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral (That’s an Irish Lullaby) at Crag House Farm in north Leeds, where the charity runs a restaurant, farm shop, coffee shop and garden nursery where disadvantaged and vulnerable people participate in therapeutic projects. “They’re all nice people, all the staff and people who work here – a nice family”, says Paul. “They were here for me when I had a stroke earlier in the year”.
Thank You, Jesus by Virginia Fishley
Virginia Fishley sings a favourite song that she learned as a child in the garden at BAME Health and Wellbeing Hub in Chapeltown, Leeds.
Madeleine Thorne, Head of Community Partnerships, Opera North, comments:
“The People’s Lullabies project was an opportunity for us to deepen our relationship with some of the wonderful groups and organisations that engage with our Community Partnerships work, exploring the themes of home, childhood and lullabies through workshops, conversation and performance together. We were honoured that the participants shared so many lovely stories, memories and songs from their childhood with us, and we are absolutely thrilled with the films that were created during the project.”
Find out more about our Community Partnerships Scheme.