Light Up Lives: Connect People Through Music This Christmas

1st December 2020

“It has been an anchor in a storm”

  • From Couch to Chorus participant


Opera North is asking people to help light up lives in schools, communities and homes this Christmas through the power of music:


  • £15 could help our In Harmony team create online singing resources for children to access from home
  • £50 could enable a group of young care leavers to experience the healing power of As You Are, our Leeds soundwalk
  • £150 could delight care home residents and staff with their very own outdoor performance
  • £500 could help film our magical Whistle Stop Opera: Cinderella for schools and families across the North this Christmas


Recognising the impact on wellbeing which music can have, Opera North has continued providing inspiration, entertainment and escapism throughout this most challenging time for everyone. The Company is now calling for support for its Christmas Light Up Lives campaign to help continue and extend its work in local communities, using music to bring people together, even when apart.


Opera North’s education and community partnerships work since the Covid-19 pandemic started has connected the Company’s musicians with some of the most vulnerable and isolated people across the region, by arranging performances at 20 care homes in and around Leeds as part of Arts Together for Care Homes, and treating the refugee and asylum seeker families at St Augustine’s Centre in Halifax to a socially-distanced performance of Whistle Stop Opera: Hansel and Gretel.

“The pandemic has isolated all of us, especially the elderly, and has caused a real challenge for artists. It was a very unique experience and a pleasure to perform for the care homes and create a connection.”
– Natalie Anastasia, Performer for Arts Together for Care Homes projects

Over 4,000 participants have also learnt the basics of opera singing from the comfort of their own living rooms through Opera North’s From Couch to Chorus virtual choir initiative. The sessions, which have been held weekly over Zoom, have proved popular both with those who were missing the social interaction provided by their usual choir practices and people keen to acquire a new skill over lockdown. All felt connected to each other through the act of shared performance.


“In this Covid time, it was just heart-warming to sing again in safety at home.”

  • From Couch to Chorus participant

Activities planned for the coming months in the North of England include As You Are, a soundwalk for Leeds composed by Abel Selaocoe and featuring the Chorus and Orchestra of Opera North. Designed to be experienced through headphones, it will encourage people to explore the city in a new and exciting way while enjoying the healing power of walking. It is hoped to offer the walk free to those groups who will benefit most from the solace it offers.


With its planned tour currently on hold, a new Whistle Stop Opera: Cinderella is being filmed to give schools and families the chance to watch the show free as an online alternative to a Christmas pantomime trip this year. Opportunities for primary age children to explore music at home are also being made available. Using the experience gained from the In Harmony Opera North school residency and following the National Curriculum, a Home Music Programme has been created which will offer online music learning to children from 7 to 11-years-old, including the opportunity to learn how to play an orchestral instrument with support from professional artists.


Richard Mantle, General Director of Opera North, said:


The challenges of this year have been immense, affecting us all in different ways but forcing us to confront loss in its various forms; of certainty in our futures, of the things that sustain our happiness, and of the time spent with those we love. It is at times such as these that we come together around the things that bring the most light into our lives, and for many of us, this is music.


“We are determined to return to live performance and to resume touring opera as soon as we are able but, whatever challenges we face, we remain committed to using music to create extraordinary experiences every day for and with the communities we serve. Any donations towards our work will be very gratefully received as they will enable us to continue to impact even more lives across the North of England and further afield.”


People can make a donation online at or by calling Opera North on 0113 223 3553.