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On London Fields - Winner of 2004 RPS Education Award Click here to visit RPS site
Made possible with the generous support of:
On London Fields featured:
Sally Burgess as Hannah Trapnel
Alison Buchanan as Deborah
Simon Thorpe as Abel
Jonathan Gunthorpe as
Sir Bawnagayne Surly
Academy of St Martin
in the Fields
Cambridge Heath Brass
Centre for Young
I Can Sing Youth Choir
The Robinson Singers
The Sharp Hoxtoners
The Wing-It Singers
Young Jazz Hackney (YJH)
Read More about the making of OLF in the performance programme [ pdf ]
Winners of the 2005 RPS Award at the Dorchester Hotel
Project Director Tertia Sefton-Green and Director Adam Eisenberg receive the award
Director Adam Eisenberg receives the award from conductor Sir Andrew Davis
On London Fields
A COMMUNITY OPERA FOR HACKNEY
Music by Matthew King
Words by Alasdair Middleton
Operaction Hackney: On London Fields was a unique and innovative project involving over 700 people, in which OPERACTION students helped to devise a new community opera, celebrating Hackney's history and diversity, performed at The Hackney Empire in November 2004.
300 learners from Entry Level to Level 2, studied across the borough of Hackney from February 2003 to July 2004 in a range of delivery venues. A team of tutors developed a curriculum, which embraced themes to be developed in the opera (such as elements of local history, the integration of diverse communities and the character of Hannah Trapnel; a Hackney resident in the1650s who was imprisoned for her prophesies about the future), along with other arts based teaching. Learners attended creative workshops with Librettist Alasdair Middleton, in order to contribute to the story and written texts of the new opera as well as visits to local museums and an Open Event in which they received certificates to mark their achievements and were entertained by performers who would be the opera. In addition, students attended performances of Madame Butterfly and The Marriage of Figaro having studied the operas in detail as part of their course.
Composer Matthew King led a series of composition workshops (with musicians from The Academy of St Martin in the Fields) to devise music for the opera for OH learners and participants from other groups who were performing in the finished work so that that they could contribute to the music, which was specifically written for them and their musical and cultural sounds.
With the music produced at the workshops incorporated into the finished vocal score, to create a wonderful range of sounds from operatic to jazz, gospel to Eastern European, Matthew also wrote vocal parts for the excellent range of professional singers engaged to take part who included international opera star Sally Burgess (Hannah Trapnel), Simon Thorpe (Abel), Alison Buchanan (Deborah) and Jonathan Gunthorpe (Sir Bawnagayne Surly). 250 performers from throughout the community rehearsed with a professional team through the autumn and took part in three performances at the Hackney Empire on 19 and 20 November, which were attended by an audience of 2,500.
HMDT formed a partnership with Hackney Museum to develop an exhibition accompanying the project, which was shown from 19 October and extended to January. The exhibition covered the process of the Operaction Hackney project focusing on Hannah Trapnel as a key female Hackney resident. It included a video of the process together with a soundpoint and various panels.
A series of pre-performance events were developed in partnership with Hackney Museum, Museum of London and Sutton House which included a talk on the historical context of the piece, a introduction to the music with the composer and a children’s workshop consisting of storytelling, learning a chorus and making props. These served to introduce various aspects of the project to a wider audience, as well as encouraging a broader marketing appeal.
Opera Magazine [ view ]
Evening Standard [ view ]
I have met & engaged with my neighbours; together we achieved something extraordinary. I have learned so much about my community, met some brilliant people and gained a lot of vocal confidence. Loved every minute of it. Martina Messing
I have greatly enjoyed myself. At times I have had a sense of awe at being on stage with 150 people. The sense of collaborating with so many talented human beings on such a special project has been amazing. The amount of energy that everyone gave is incredible from the composer to director, the cast, costume designer and makers. I feel very privileged for being part of this. Being on stage with fantastic costumes performing in front of an audience has been the icing on the cake in this ego-boosting experience.... Has left me with a positive outlook on the future. I would like to thank the funders and the organisers for this great opportunity. I'm glad there is more funding for special projects like this open to everyone. There is a great sense of achievement and energy and more hope for more cultural activities in the future.
Having lived here for 19 years and five months, finally I can say: 'I love Hackney!'. It's been a long and difficult courtship, and we've both tried hard. Out of the blue, it seemed (though not out of the blue at all, of course), along came the HMDT, with its warm smile but steely resolve, and an amazingly imaginative way of bringing us together. Looking back a few years, I now realise that HMDT has also been associated with (or even responsible for) earlier moments in which I had felt most lovingly linked with Hackney. For example, both my daughters went through Hackney CYM, and years later continue to benefit greatly from what they learned and the friends they made there.
The piece itself is very important here, and perhaps the most remarkable achievement of the whole project (there is plenty of competition for that accolade) has been the interwoven layers of the piece itself and experience of doing it. I am moved now when I think about the creative process that produced the libretto and score and then the performances...
On an every day level, though, it has been the process of working creatively and collectively with so many Hackney people, in the main, in so focused and determined and mutually respectful a way. This is profoundly important because now, as I walk down the street, I have a definitely changed attitude to everyone I see: each is someone with a story to tell, talents to offer, problems to solve... Above all, perhaps, it has made me feel that the way I live and relate to the people around me each day is the first and most important thing I can contribute.
The piece itself and the process of putting it on have peeled away one layer after another of each other, revealing new insights about each other, throughout the last two months...
Otherwise, while there is much more I could say (and one day might write), what I must say, but seems inadequate to the extent to which I mean it, is: Thank You!