Opera North seeks BAME artists’ applications for next spring’s Resonance programme

Following the successful ‘Lockdown Edition’ of its workshops for music-makers and composers from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, Opera North is seeking applications for next spring’s Resonance programme, and planning for a return to collaborations in person, with live scratch performances in front of audiences.

Neo-soul singer Tawiah
Neo-soul singer Tawiah began work on her new album in the last Resonance programme. Photo: Myrrh

Launched in 2017 and supported by PRS Foundation, Resonance offers professional musicians and composers based in the north of England and working in any genre the opportunity to develop new ideas, to collaborate with performers from other disciplines, and to take their work in new directions.

Subject to the COVID-19 situation, successful applicants for the new round of residencies will receive up to a week of free rehearsal space in central Leeds in March and April 2021, a grant of up to £3,500 to cover fees for those involved and other costs, and support and advice from technicians, producers and other specialists. There are also options for a short film to document the project, and a work in progress performance or live stream.

Opera North’s most recent Resonance workshop programme, The Lockdown Edition, was part of the company’s drive to address the impact of the pandemic on music makers. The six innovative, remote collaborations included DJ NikNak and poet Khadijah Ibrahiim’s exploration of their shared Jamaican culture through audio archives and music; neo-soul singer Tawiah’s bringing together of Ghanaian Pentecostal and classical choral traditions; and DJ and producer Balraj Samrai’s chronicle of the impact of COVID on people of colour in music and spoken word.

“Resonance provided me with a unique opportunity to launch a fresh project, which involved collaborating with a wide range of musicians and artists to produce a commentary on the COVID-19 situation as it unfolded”, says Balraj. “Opera North supported the work from inception to press rollout, working alongside me to help our track, I should have hugged you tighter when we last met (Oh what a joy), and its accompanying film, achieve its full potential. We’re still in touch now, and I’m continuing to work with the other artists on more new material”.

Jazz singer and songwriter Nishla Smith began work on her song cycle, What Happened to Agnes, in last April’s Resonance, and went on to take it on a national tour before lockdown this year. “Resonance provided an ideal framework for me to explore a new direction in my music making”, she says. “The programme combined extensive support and resources with the freedom to push myself and explore new ideas. I created a major new piece of work, and formed strong collaborative relationships with associate artists that I might not have had the confidence to develop otherwise.” 

Dominic Gray, Director of Projects, Opera North, comments:

We’re so excited to be opening up the next Resonance series. Every year the programme reveals unexpected collaborations, leading to amazing musical and artistic works; all of them new, and all made here in Leeds during the residencies. 

“It’s always important to support artists and their creativity, but right now it feels more vital than ever. We can’t wait to see and hear the ideas and sounds that have been brewing while musicians have been unable to create and perform, and we look forward to sharing the results with other artists and audiences who share our passion.”

The Resonance scheme has been enabled by Opera North’s membership of the PRS Foundation’s network of Talent Development Partners. The UK’s leading funder of new music and talent development, PRS Foundation supports organisations working at the frontline of talent development with a broad range of individual music creators. This reflects PRS Foundation’s commitment to supporting composers and songwriters of all backgrounds and genres, through direct investment or by helping organisations which nurture artists and promote their music.

To apply for a residency as part of Resonance 2021, artists should fill in the short form via the Opera North website and submit it by 10am on Monday 19 October 2020. To qualify for consideration, the lead artist must be a professional composer, musician or music maker from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background, aged 18 years old or over and living in the north of England.

For more information and an application form, visit operanorth.co.uk.

[Rowland Thomas – Opera North]