Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 11.05.07Young singers are tuning up for a unique opportunity that is giving them their first taste of opera.

Bede Academy, in Blyth, is collaborating with Opera North in workshops leading to a performance in the inspiring surroundings of Hexham Abbey on July 1.

Members of the academy’s junior choir are learning songs for the performance, Myths and Legends, in which children from just four other North East schools will take part, alongside Opera North’s chorus

Director of music at Bede Helen Kerr explained: “This opportunity for some of our students to not only benefit from coaching by members of Opera North in the run-up to the performance but also then to have the privilege of singing with their professional chorus in the abbey is something really special.

“Collaborations like this are extremely valuable to us and the students do appreciate how lucky they are and the amount they can learn from the experience.

“We provide numerous opportunities for all students at the academy to get involved in performances and music and this collaboration is really building on that for our talented singers.”

Matt Beckingham, artistic head of Leeds-based Opera North’s education vocal programme, led the second workshop at the academy, accompanied by pianist Chris Pulleyn.

Matt said of the Bede students:  “They are doing well, they’re really flying. It’s evident that singing is a big part of the academy.”

Amelia Jenkins, 11, of Blyth, said: “We have never done opera before and it’s really good. It’s completely different because it’s acting and singing and you have to get into the character. It will be nerve-wracking to sing at the abbey but there will be lots of us and it’s really exciting.”

Music groups meet every day after school and most lunchtimes at the academy, including the junior, senior and cantata choirs, jazz band and orchestra. Rehearsals are also under way for an ambitious production of Les Miserables in October.

Opera North Education works with many different groups from babies and early years to schools and adult groups across the North of England to inspire audiences, engage communities and challenge preconceptions of opera.