Opera North has launched a new youth ensemble for aspiring young instrumentalists across Leeds following the findings of a recent In Harmony report which highlighted the barriers to keeping children musically engaged as they move from primary to secondary school.

Opera North Junior Strings is open to all budding string players with a view to helping them develop their instrumental and musicianship skills in a friendly and supportive environment under the guidance of world-class artists. Targeted at young musicians from 10 to 14, or up to and including Grade 3, the orchestra has been specifically designed to help ease the musical transition to secondary school, providing an inspiring way for children to continue mastering the violin, viola, cello or double bass, while forging new musical friendships.

In Harmony Opera North currently works with over 1,100 primary school pupils in socio-economically disadvantaged communities in Leeds, with every child learning to sing and to play an instrument in weekly small group lessons, orchestras, and choir sessions. To make it easier for the older students to continue playing their instruments when they reach secondary school, free bus travel is being provided for In Harmony participants and graduates to the Junior Strings youth ensemble from the In Harmony Opera North communities.

The report also showed that holiday courses played a crucial role in enhancing motivation amongst young musicians. In a further bid to keep 10 to 18-year-olds musically engaged, the Company has announced that it will be holding its third Opera North Orchestra Camp at the University of Leeds this summer. The camp will run for four days in August with participants taking part in instrumental, singing and creative activities while exploring and rehearsing new music with other young instrumentalists. On the final afternoon, the children will play in a concert with the Orchestra of Opera North.

Opera North Junior Strings meets on Mondays during term-time in the Howard Assembly Room from 4.15pm to 5.45pm. More information can be found at www.operanorth.co.uk/opera-north-junior-strings–2 with children welcome to sign up at any point in the school year. Opera North Orchestra Camp will run from 28-31 August at the School of Music at the University of Leeds from 9.30am to 4pm each day. Further details including fees and bursaries can be found at https://www.operanorth.co.uk/opera-north-orchestra-camp. There is no need to audition for either activity.

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