Leading arts organisation Opera North is preparing to co-host an inaugural arts festival with local residents as the first phase of its innovative Richmond Hill community residency in Leeds draws to close.
From 29 June to 7 July, everyone living in the Burmantofts and Richmond Hill Ward will be invited to come together for a week-long series of events created by residents for residents and featuring pop-up performances by members of the Chorus and Orchestra of Opera North. Volunteers from the wider Opera North Company will also work alongside the local community to host and run the festivities.
Postcode Parties will be held in four locations, giving people the chance to enjoy musical performances and free refreshments on their home patch. The first, The Great Get Together, is planned for Thursday 29 June in the car park of Richmond Hill Academy where the Year 4 pupils will sing side-by-side with members of the Chorus at the end of the school day. This will be followed by Party at the Hub on Monday 3 July to celebrate and raise the profile of the local Community Garden at the Cross Green Hub, and Lark in the Park at East End Bowling Club on Tuesday 4 July. Led by Richmond Hill Elderly Action, this intergenerational picnic will feature performances by the Orchestra’s brass players and singers from St Vincent’s Community Centre. The final event, Party in the (Car)Park, will be held on Thursday 6 July in the car park of Edmund House Social Club. During the event and in recognition of the strong grassroots sports in the area, a brass quintet from the Orchestra will play the Leeds United anthem ‘Marching on Together’ in front of the LUFC mural painted on the building’s wall. Local youth football club, Saxton FC, will be doing skills demonstrations and local boxing club, Bethlehem Boxing, will be among the groups represented. The celebrations will then move indoors with a community cabaret in Edmund House, during which the community of St Vincent’s will share a whole range of exciting acts.
Alongside these public performances, a number of private events will provide an opportunity for residents to enjoy a musical interlude in their own settings. These include a concert by members of the Chorus of Opera North at a local residential care home for people living with dementia, and a celebration with instrumental entertainment to coincide with the opening of a new family garden at early years provider The Vinery Centre. In what promises to be a highlight of the week, a Luncheon Banquet on Wednesday 5 July will see Opera North staff from across the organisation serving a hot meal to some of the area’s most vulnerable residents in a special edition of the community’s regular weekly meet-up. The group will enjoy a menu designed with the help of Josh Whitehead, the new Head Chef of Opera North’s restaurant Kino, and performances from both the Orchestra and Chorus.