Resonance residencies for BAME artists return to Opera North for 2020 – Keep the Faith

Posted By on March 1, 2020

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Six lead artistshave been announced forthe latest round of Opera NorthsResonance residencies this spring, developing new ideas in workshops andwork in progress performances in Leeds, with the support of PRS Foundation.

Launchedin 2017, Resonance offers time, space and resources to professional artists fromBAME backgrounds working in any genre of music and based in the North ofEngland, to take their work in new directions, to experiment with collaboratorsand new ideas, and to test the results in front of audiences.

Hull-based British-Egyptian mezzo soprano Camille Maalawy will bring the traditions of Arabic song and western opera together into performance, informed by her professional experience which ranges from opera, oratorio, lieder and contemporary composition, to Arabic and Sephardic traditional song. Her collaborators include composer and former principal nay player in the Orchestra of the Cairo Opera House Mina Mikhael Salama, and Guy Schalom, a percussionist who specialises in Arabic and klezmer music.

I am absolutely thrilled to be part of Resonance 2020!, comments Camille. Being awarded the time and space to explore the possibility of fusing Arabic and western classical song is such a wonderful opportunity for me to delve more deeply into my cultural heritage. I am honoured to be collaborating with Mina and Guy, and hope we can devise something that will engage and inspire a wide audience.

Born in South Africa and now living in Manchester, award-winning cellist Abel Selaocoes ambition is nothing less than to redefine the parameters of his instrument. He will work on original solo music for the cello that reimagines or is influenced by different stringed instruments from the African continent, including the gonji (Ghanaian violin), the berimbau, a single-string percussion instrument, the West African kora and the Ghanain kologo lute. He will work closely with specialist musicians including Sidiki Dembele, a master of the West African djembe, ngoni and kora.

Pariss Elektrais a Leeds multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and singer working with a blend ofNu Jazz, Neo-Soul, and New Age music. Her work in progress, The Velvet Room,is a live music performance triptych that features her band, Pariss & ThePresence, interacting with projection mapped visuals and animation by visualartist Natasha Joseph.

Im excited to see an idea that I have had since Ibegan my singer-songwriter career take shape, says Pariss. I never thought Iwould get the time and space to seriously work on the visual aspect of mywork.

Sheffield-based composer, vocalist and film maker DanLoops will continue his journey into theatre-making with the lives of threecharacters, rapper, a poet and an actor, charted through an overlappingcombination of hip hop, acoustic and classical score.

I have worked in poetry and rap since I was 18, but writingis my passion, no matter the method of delivery, says Dan. More recently Ihave turned my attention to developing my narrative skills through films and plays.My Resonance residency will give me the chance to explore musical storytellingfurther in the form of a new theatre show loosely based on my life, both as amusician and as a flawed individual, balancing true stories, musical commentaryand themes of escapism.

The resulting show will play with form, and follow theintertwining stories of three distinct characters, whose narratives will bemirrored by their musical journeys, culminating in an exciting clash of genre,styles and perceptions.

Leeds-based tabla player, producer and educator BhupinderChaggar will develop his unique vision for a coming together of Indian classicalKathak dance, tap dance, percussion and electronic production. Tabla andTap is an exciting exploration of two polar cultures, heritages andlanguages, he says. The intricacies of tabla and the power of tap will createa rhythmically charged yet expressive visual and musical experience.

A sixth artist supported by Opera North, Leeds-basedwriter-director Omari Swanston-Jeffers, will develop a narrative centredaround music, dance and community. 3NEGUS stages the story of threeyoung men, Azizi, Lara and Kareem, through their struggles to bring up a baby,keep a roof over their heads, and stay in full-time education. Hiscollaborators on the project will include singer-songwriter, producer andcomposer Christella Litras, whose soundtrack for a full-length animated filmbegan life in the first round of Resonance residencies in 2018; andsinger-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Pariss Elektra from the latestcohort of artists.

Among the alumni of the previous two Resonance instalmentsin 2018 and 2019 who have continued to develop their projects, singer andsongwriter Nishla Smith closes a national tour of her multimedia songcycle What Happened to Agnes with a date at Interplay Theatre, Leeds on6 March. Huddersfield-based singer songwriter Thabo will continue todevelop his multi-sensory work involving fragrance, light and music through aresidency at Snape Maltings, and ErrollynWallen and Brolly Productionsopera The Powder Monkey is due for a second tour this autumn. Composer, rapper and MCTestaments new musical that tells the story of ShirleyChisholm, the first Black woman to run for the office of President of the USA, recentlyspent a further week in research and development at Leeds College of Music witha full mixed cast of professionals and students.

ThandananiGumede, who worked on hisZulu Song Cycle during the first residency programme, led workshops andcoaching for Opera Norths Peoples Lullabies project last summer, and will return thisyear to draw together a further series. His Song Cycle continues to evolve, andwas performed in its latest state at a Manchester Jazz Festival Hothouse showcasebefore Christmas. Sitarist and composer Jasdeep Singh Degun, who wasMusic Director on South Asian Arts-uks commemoration of the centenary of the Partitionof India and Pakistan, the first Resonance project to reach completion,performed the world premiere of Arya, his new sitar concerto,with the Orchestra of Opera North on 23 February.

Jo Nockels, Headof Projects, Opera North, comments:

As Resonance comes into its third year, ithas been wonderful to build longer-term working relationships with some of theartists involved, both here at Opera North and further afield, by supportingthem to access other opportunities. This years group of artists is inventive,ambitious and eclectic and we are really looking forward to getting started!

JoeFrankland, CEO at PRSFoundation, comments:

Hugecongratulations to all six music creators selected for this latest round ofOpera Norths Resonance programme. Thisinitiative is a fantastic example of an organisation delivering an excellentopportunity to support exciting, diverse music creators to develop their craftand new ideas. I look forward to seeingthe outcomes from each of the residencies.

The Resonanceprogramme is supported by the PRSFoundations Talent DevelopmentPartnership. The UKs leading funder of new music and talent development,PRS Foundation supports organisations working at the frontline of talentdevelopment with a broad range of individual music creators. This reflects PRSFoundations commitment to supporting composers and songwriters of allbackgrounds and genres, through direct investment or by helping organisationswhich nurture artists and promote their music. Opera North is one of 45 TalentDevelopment Partners for 2019-20.

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

Rowland Thomas

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Resonance residencies for BAME artists return to Opera North for 2020 - Keep the Faith

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