Opera festival sees renowned performers hit high note at Norwich schools

Acclaimed soprano Lizzie Holmes sings to Clover Hill VA Infant School pupils.

Acclaimed soprano Lizzie Holmes sings to Clover Hill VA Infant School pupils. - Credit: Into Opera

Hundreds of primary school children in Norwich got to experience and take part in opera singing as part of a festival to help schools recover from Covid disruption.

Norwich-based Into Opera has worked closely with five schools throughout the pandemic with workshops and events involving leading professional artists

Into Opera choral director Patrick Barrett and pianist Dan Moriyama with pupils at Clover Hill VA Infant School.

Into Opera choral director Patrick Barrett and pianist Dan Moriyama with pupils at Clover Hill VA Infant School. - Credit: Into Opera

It culminated with a week of imaginative pop-up concerts, singing, dancing with top class artists coming to Norfolk including the acclaimed soprano Lizzie Holmes who has come straight from performing in a production of Così fan tutte at Longborough Festival Opera. 

She was joined by choral director Patrick Barrett, pianist Dan Moriyama, choreographer Natasha Khamjani and Into Opera’s artistic director Genevieve Raghu.

Into Opera launched the Norfolk Into Opera Festival in 2019 imaginatively transforming the Octagon Barn in Little Plumstead into an opera house. Some of the UK’s best opera makers travelled to Norwich to perform. 

With the arts sector facing severe restrictions as a result of the pandemic, they have produced a smaller, bespoke schools version of the festival for 2021.

Into Opera choral director Patrick Barrett with pupils at Clover Hill VA Infant School.

Into Opera choral director Patrick Barrett with pupils at Clover Hill VA Infant School. - Credit: Into Opera


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Ms Raghu said: “We created the Norfolk Into Opera Schools Festival to provide schools with an opportunity to have some fun and to celebrate how much they have achieved over the last 18-months.

“As we recover from the pandemic and its ongoing impact on our lives, I am in no doubt that music and the arts will act as tools to help us all heal and recover. 

Pupils at St Michael’s VA Junior join in activities during Norwich schools opera festival.

Pupils at St Michael’s VA Junior join in activities during Norwich schools opera festival. - Credit: Into Opera

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“It has been a privilege to be at the side of schools during the pandemic and I have loved creating this opera festival with and for these inspiring schools.” 

The five participating schools included Sprowston Junior School, St Michael’s VA Junior, Clover Hill VA Infant School, The Bawburgh School and St Francis of Assisi Catholic Primary School.

Bawburgh School headteacher Carla Steadman said: “After an incredibly challenging 18-months, this festival of arts, culture and creativity with Into Opera symbolises the light at the end of the tunnel.

"It has energised us, raised our spirits and helped us to feel as though we are maybe…hopefully coming closer to reaching the other side of the tunnel.” 

Acclaimed soprano Lizzie Holmes with Clover Hill VA Infant School pupils.

Acclaimed soprano Lizzie Holmes with Clover Hill VA Infant School pupils. - Credit: Into Opera

Into Opera choral director Patrick Barrett with pupils at St Francis of Assisi Catholic Primary School.

Into Opera choral director Patrick Barrett with pupils at St Francis of Assisi Catholic Primary School. - Credit: Into Opera


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