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Spring 2019: Opera and Creative Learning in Wales

by Rhian Hutchings, March 14, 2019

Operasonic is running two schools projects this spring, both funded by Arts Council Wales Creative Learning Through the Arts Scheme. Opera in schools is clearly thriving in South East Wales and teachers just want more!

Street Detectives is a Lead Creative Schools project run by Ysgol Y Ddraig in Llantwit Major. Creative Director Rhian Hutchings and composer Helen Woods are working with Year 2 as they explore their spring topic – our village. We are bringing the topic to life through creative writing, music and drama, and will sharing our final creation with parents at the beginning of April. We’ve been working closely with the two class teachers Miss Price and Miss Cogbill to explore different ways of working with our 6 year old participants. Rhian will also be leading a training session for other staff in the school focusing on using drama and music techniques to bring topics to life.

Year 2 pupils tell Rhian about what Llantwit Major was like in the past.

Operasonic are also collaborating with three schools to run a bilingual opera writing project funded through the Experiencing the Arts strand of Creative Learning Through the Arts. This gives schools and organisations the chance to make work together that benefits everyone. Clytha Primary School, Woodlands Community Primary and Ysgol Gymraeg Caerffili have been supporting each other as a peer cluster for a while and saw the fund as a way to undertake a joint project. Operasonic was only too happy to work with them to develop an idea. All four organisations were keen to work with the Welsh language and to inspire their pupils to increase their confidence in literacy. We decided to focus on the Mabinogion folk tales, giving us a chance to introduce pupils to these famous Welsh legends and also to write three fabulous bilingual mini-operas. The three schools will come together at the end of June in The Riverfront Theatre to share their Mabinogion Chwedl a Chân (Story and Song). Dwi’n gwybod y bydd yn bendigedig! We know it will be wonderful!

Finally Operasonic attended a day conference on Wellbeing, Confidence and the Expressive Arts run by Arts in Education Network: South East Wales. The network is one of four in Wales funded as part of Creative Learning Through the Arts to connect artists and teachers and help them develop practice together. Rhian supported a session led by Danielle Rowlands from The Riverfront Theatre and treated delegates to a short singing workshop. Despite being initially reluctant, the teachers who attended really enjoyed the experience and were shocked to be told at the end of the workshop that they had actually been singing bits of Carmen!