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Project information

Opera North Children's Chorus

In 2011 Opera North established the Opera North Children’s Chorus (ONCC), a regular children’s chorus that involves up to 92 children aged 7-13 years from diverse backgrounds in Yorkshire who demonstrate a natural aptitude for singing.


Charity information: Opera North

Opera North logo
  • Need


    Following extensive research Opera North Education established that Leeds would benefit from a children’s chorus which is open to all, which does not focus on liturgical music and that will perform to the highest artistic standards.

    Other than the Cathedral and parish church choirs in Leeds (which focus on sacred music and might not attract families from other religious backgrounds), research failed to identify any children’s choirs in Leeds open to all young people of an accepted excellence.


    Opera North has recruited girls and boys with unbroken voices from West and North Yorkshire 23% of pupils are from ‘hard pressed’ families or are based in disadvantaged areas of Leeds. The children do not necessarily have any musical experience and will undertake appropriate training once they join the chorus. They will develop strong skills in musicianship, learn to read music, develop their singing voices, learn stagecraft and perform alongside professional singers and artists.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    A unique opportunity for children to develop a high standard of musical ability and experience.


    » Run weekly rehearsal sessions for the Chorus with their own Music Director to develop their vocal skills as part of a professional group
    » Enable the children to study stagecraft to improve their performance and acting skills
    » Provide opportunities to audition for upcoming mainstage productions

    What success will look like

    Success will be... seeing measurable improvements in the musical abilities of the choristers

    Aim 2

    Demonstrate the artistic excellence of young people in their region


    » Give children the opportunity to showcase their vocal talents to audiences regionally and nationally

    What success will look like

    Success will be...giving public performance in Yorkshire and the UK and receiving positive feedback from audiences and the media

    Aim 3

    A programme of inspiring choral and creative activities that deepen their engagement with the arts


    » Ensure that the children have the opportunity to sing a wide range of repertoire in concert performances
    » Develop partnerships with other choruses and musical organisations across Yorkshire and throughout the UK

    What success will look like

    Success will be...undertaking a varied programme of activity with positive feedback from the children and parents

    Aim 4

    Access progression routes which are important when the children’s only opportunity to sing at school


    » Provide them with opportunities to develop their musical skills and attain musical scholarships
    » Provide them with opportunities to access other choral opportunities when they leave the ONCC

    What success will look like

    Success will be...seeing the children secure musical scholarships and join other choruses following participation in the ONCC

  • Impact


    1)Unique opportunity for these children to develop a high standard of musical ability and experience
    2)Valuable resource for Opera North, as participants are given appropriate training to allow them to audition for professional stage and concert productions
    3)Progression route for children from diverse backgrounds to develop their musical abilities, encouraging them to undertake a life long engagement with the arts
    Success will be seeing the Chorus perform individually in roles on the stage.


    There is a risk that we will not continue to attract children from a wide spread of communities in the UK, especially those who are new to opera and musical theatre. We will be working closely and building trust with schools in all communities over an extended period of time to ensure that they are able to access and become part of the Chorus.


    The progress is monitored and evaluated through measures that include regular artists’ planning meetings, case studies and questionnaires and comparative analysis of recordings. A report is written at the end of each school year to assess success and how future delivery can be improved for donors.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £127,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £48,000 Artistic Team Music director and coach for Chorus
      £30,000 Performers and Musicians Assocaited musicians for concerts, rehearsal and performances
      £30,000 Production costs Any associated production costs
      £19,000 Concert and travel For artistic team and children to perform and travel to concerts that they are invovled with

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Charitable Trusts £43,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    The Chorus is based in Leeds but will have opportunities to perform across the UK.


    92 children from Yorkshire who are part of the Chorus. The children have been recruited through state schools and communities (many located in deprived inner city areas) with which we have relationships, local authorities and via the Opera North website and printed brochures.

    Artists, musicians and audiences will also benefit as they have the opportunity to broaden their repertoire and experience of working with young people.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Opera North, the national opera company for the north of England, has brought opera to audiences in Yorkshire, North West, North East and the East Midlands since 1978. Opera North Education, who coordinates the ONCC, is an integral part of the Company and one of the largest arts educational providers in the north of England and produces an extensive and participatory arts programme.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Justin Doyle

    Music Director. Justin began his career as chorister at Westminster Cathedral and has experience in conducting orchestras and leading music projects.

    Rachel Staunton

    Vocal Specialist who ensures that the children achieve the highest possible standard of singing. Assistant Director of The National Youth Choirs of GB