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Opera QLD empowers students to sing their songs of belonging
What is an opera without its lush costumes, elaborate sets and foreign lyrics? To students at Yeronga State High School, it is the perfect medium to tell the stories that resonate with them. The inner-south Brisbane school has partnered with Opera Queensland to develop a stripped back opera to spotlight the remarkable stories and vocal abilities of its diverse student body.
The project began with weekly workshops in mid-October 2018 and culminates in a premiere performance of Songs of Belonging at Yeronga State High School on Thursday 29 November 2018. Guest composer Helen Franzmann, opera singers Jason Barry-Smith (baritone) and Jessica Low (mezzo soprano) and musical director Trevor Jones have worked alongside 18 performing arts students to develop Songs of Belonging over six weeks. At the core of the production are the students' personal stories of "belonging".
Opera Queensland Artistic Director and CEO Patrick Nolan said Songs of Belonging provides an important opportunity for these teenage students to have their voices and their stories heard. "At the heart of opera is story-telling with song, it doesn't always need big sets and colourful costumes to have a profound impact," Mr Nolan said. "Creating an opportunity for the students to share their remarkable backgrounds, impressive achievements and aspirations for the future through song, is as much a privilege for us as it is a great experience for them."
The Songs of Belonging project received a $12,074 boost from the Celebrating Multicultural Queensland grants program in June 2018. Songs of Belonging embodies Opera Queensland's commitment to create opera for all Queenslanders and share the joy of performance with artists and audiences throughout the state.
Proceeds from Opera Queensland's 2018 Gala, All That Glitters, supports state wide educational programs and initiatives such as Songs of Belonging, ensuring the power of music and storytelling is made available for both local and regional students and community members.