At Longborough Festival Opera we work hard to build relationships with local schools, where their arts provision is limited due to staffing and funding.
Our aim is to help fill the cultural void by sharing our love of opera and the arts with young people across the towns, villages, and cities in our region. Each element of our work is carefully designed to spark a love of music, raise aspirations, encourage young people to get involved and develop a life-long love of the arts.
Longborough Festival Opera’s Education and Participation department devises and delivers a rich array of high-quality projects for young people in our region, in close collaboration with teachers and world-class artists. Thousands of young people have experienced opportunities that would not have been possible without the programme.
Students have grown in confidence, learnt new skills, performed alongside professional artists and experienced live opera for the first time. Our programme helps to raise aspiration, encourages participation, inspires creativity and enables young people to realise their own creative potential.
We need your help
Longborough Festival Opera is a charity (no. 1087303). We need to raise over £80,000 every year to deliver our ambitious education and outreach programme. We rely on donations from generous individuals and Trusts and Foundations to support our work in our community.
£20 per month could help build a school choir; £50 per month could fund Youth Chorus training; £100 per month could help fund Playground Opera in a school. To discuss further ways of how you can help, contact Saskia Ross: email@example.com
Our vision is that every school should have a well-trained school choir that meets weekly, working on a wide variety of repertoire and style, that promotes singing as a feel-good, collaborative and inspirational activity.
Our chorus masters visit local schools each week throughout the school year, working in small groups of 15 children in 20-minute sessions to develop the musical ear of children aged 4-7.
A school choir has been established with great success in both schools. At Moreton St Davids, 38 children have opted to join this voluntary choir; and Longborough School engages the whole school in weekly sessions in the local church, with teachers and pupils singing together.
We will continue to work with these schools and will soon start work in more local primary schools.
“Children have improved confidence, ability, concentration and focus on a task – they have blossomed into young singers.”
Outcomes in 2023:
The Singing Schools project worked with two schools, with 237 children participating in over 80 hours of lessons.
100% of participants improved their accuracy of pitching
100% of participants gained confidence in singing to their peers
100% of participants want to continue with the sessions
"It has a huge positive impact on their well-being, as we often practice the songs throughout the week and it really lifts their mood – and mine!"
Playground Opera makes opera more accessible and provides an exciting first experience of opera for hundreds of children.
We prioritise schools in areas of rural or economic deprivation, where children have little access to high-quality culture. Playground Opera abridges classic operas, involving the pupils in rewriting the story, meeting the characters, and singing and dancing along to the music, resulting in an absorbing and highly engaging performance.
Over 1,500 pupils have the chance to dig deeper and analyse the story, working in small groups with our team to make the story more relevant and in most cases, more extraordinary. Children are shown how to project their singing voices and to express themselves through movement.
The opportunity to engage in high-quality artistic experiences can give students a huge boost in confidence. Our approach creates a fun and liberating environment in which children can express themselves.
“It brought me into a whole new world”
(Lucas, aged 7)
2023: The Downfall of Don José
Our 2023 Playground Opera turned Bizet’s famous opera Carmen into The Downfall of Don José – a cautionary tale of the terrible decisions made by Don José. We visited schools in rural Gloucestershire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire: in ten schools, 449 students attended workshops and performed in the opera and 1,215 children watched the performance.
100% of schools believed that this project exceeded their expectations in quality and enjoyment, and learning something new
100% of schools would like us to return with another Playground Opera
100% of schools would recommend us to other schools.
“Please, please, please keep doing what you are doing! It is VITAL that these children widen their horizons and experiences of the world”
Teacher, St Gregory’s the Great, Cheltenham
Workshops for schools
Every year, we invite schools to visit a dress rehearsal during our summer festival, to experience real opera on a theatre stage. To help them get the most out of the experience, we introduce them to the work through interactive workshops.
Longborough’s education team and artists visited four schools to introduce the students to the story of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore (The Elixir of Love), in preparation for a visit to our theatre.
162 students improved their appreciation of Donizetti’s opera
113 students attended the dress rehearsal. For most this was their first ever visit to an opera
100% said that they would never have come to the opera without this project
100% of attendees have asked to return
“Our students have been talking about it ever since and are excited for you to come back. Last year’s workshop was just as influential, and we have seen an uptake in vocal lessons/interest since"
The Longborough Youth Chorus
The Youth Chorus continues to grow in size and reputation as the place to learn performance skills and opera rep, in preparation for main stage productions. It is open to anyone under the age of 21 who is prepared to commit to intensive rehearsals with our team. We now have over 45 members from ages 7-21, including six students on 100% bursaries.
The students perform in a professional theatre, in a real opera production in front of large audiences
They work with a full professional company, and alongside an orchestra – an eye-opening experience for them all
On-site rehearsals with choreographers help perfect their movement on the stage
All parents are invited to the dress rehearsal, and many members of the Youth Chorus invited their friends to come and watch too, introducing a new audience to opera
The Youth Chorus is part of a tiered learning approach, together with our Emerging Artist programme: the Youth Chorus learn from the Emerging Artists, and the senior Youth Chorus guide new members of the juniors.
2023 was a busy year, with the chorus involved in a mainstage production, two community concerts, and an annual community Christmas carol event in Longborough village.
Purcell’s The Fairy Queen
The Fairy Queen was our Emerging Artist performance on the main stage, directed by Longborough’s artistic director Polly Graham.
The Youth Chorus started work in April and had 13 rehearsals with choreographers, body percussionists, folk fiddlers and the assistant conductor, Harry Sever.
The production received 5-star reviews, with the Youth Chorus given acclaim.
“The excellent Longborough Youth Chorus sang beautifully, moved confidently and brought delight on their every re-entry.”