Lockdown Edition of Resonance, Opera North’s programme for BAME music-makers

Designed to support UK-based BAME music-makers in exploring new ideas and collaborating with other artists under our current, uniquely challenging circumstances, a new ‘Lockdown Edition’ of Opera North’s successful Resonance programme is open for applications now.

As part of its drive to address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on artists and the making of music, the Leeds-based company is seeking applications from professional UK-based music-creators from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, working in any genre.

Five successful lead artists will each receive a grant of up to £800 to cover fees for themselves and collaborator/s for 2-2.5 days’ work, and small equipment purchases. Project management and support to access other resources, funding and assistance will be provided to underpin the work and to enable development to continue following participation in the programme.

Supported by the PRS Foundation’s Talent Development Partnership from its inception in 2017, Opera North’s annual Resonance scheme has seen research and development residencies for projects including operas, musicals, a film soundtrack, and even a multi-sensory work bringing together fragrance, light and music. Most of this year’s programme, due to take place in Leeds between March and June, had to be postponed until later in the year because of the coronavirus lockdown.

Abel Selaocoe. Image copyright: Opera North

“One of the great strengths of Resonance has always been its adaptability to the processes and the needs of a very diverse cohort of artists”,

says Opera North’s Head of Projects Jo Nockels.

“With restrictions on movement and gathering now in place, we want to see the programme evolve even further to take account of new ways to collaborate, which might not have been possible previously due to constraints on time and availability.

“Perhaps there is a musician you have always wanted to collaborate with and never been able to. Maybe there is a very different musical style that you would like to explore with another musician. Or is there a musical skill you would like to add to your range – anything from notation to playing technique?”

Applicants are invited to provide a brief outline of their proposal, including any potential collaborators, and to explain why this opportunity will enhance their professional practice or enable them to pursue a new creative idea. All projects mustbe achievable under current social distancing and travel regulations, but in common with previous instalments of Resonance – which have featured hip hop, soul, Afrobeat, Indian classical music and traditional Arabic song – no restrictions are placed on artistic ambition or musical genre.

Nwando Ebizie – Hildegard. Image copyright: Opera North

Singer-songwriter Nishla Smith’s song cycle, developed during last year’s workshops, completed a national tour just before lockdown began. Dark and mesmerising, What Happened to Agnes unravels an ancestral mystery through song, archive recordings and projected visuals. Another 2019 project, a musical by composer, rapper and MC Testament telling the story of the first Black woman to run for the office of US President, recently spent a further week in research and development with a full cast at Leeds College of Music.

Thandanani Gumede, who worked on his Zulu Song Cycle in 2018, led workshops and coaching for Opera North’s People’s Lullabies project last summer, and will return to oversee a subsequent series when lockdown is lifted. His Song Cycle continues to evolve, performed in its latest state at a Manchester Jazz Festival Hothouse showcase before Christmas. Errollyn Wallen and Brolly Productions’ opera The Powder Monkey, set aboard a slave ship and drawing on the musical traditions of West Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Northern England and creole work songs, is in preparation for a second tour. A participant in one of the first Resonance projects, sitarist and composer Jasdeep Singh Degun, performed the world premiere of Arya, his new sitar concerto, with the Orchestra of Opera North in February of this year.

To be eligible for Resonance: The Lockdown Edition, applicants must be UK-based professional composers or music-creators aged 18 or over who are not in full-time education. Previous recipients of Resonance residencies are eligible. As a signatory of the Keychange initiative founded by PRS Foundation, Opera North aims to support at least 50% recipients who are women or are from gender minorities.

To apply, fill in the short form and submit it by 10am on Friday 8th May 2020. If you have any queries or would like to discuss your application, please email jo.nockels@operanorth.co.uk. Links to the form and more information on the Resonance programme can be found at operanorth.co.uk

A series of short films on previous Resonance projects can be seen here.

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