Glyndebourne increases the number of dedicated schools performances on its annual autumn tour

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Glyndebourne has increased the number of dedicated schools performances in its annual autumn tour to give over 9,500 students across the UK the chance to experience world class opera on their doorstep.

Glyndebourne’s Performances for Schools initiative has been running for eight years and offers subsidised tickets to local schools to attend dedicated Glyndebourne Tour performances. Tickets start from as little as £3 and the performances are reinforced by online resources to support teaching in the classroom.

Opera is the only art form to simultaneously combine music, drama, movement, literature, performance, design and stagecraft. Providing a source of inspiration and learning for those studying performing arts, it can also be the starting point for projects reaching across the curriculum.

James Cookson, Music Teacher at Chumleigh Community College, who attended last year’s Performance for School at the Theatre Royal Plymouth, said:

“Access to high-quality cultural experiences in a rural community is limited but Glyndebourne Performances for Schools are an excellent opportunity to see something of the highest standard. Last year’s performance was the basis for cross-curricular activity involving Music, Drama, Art and English which worked extremely well and ensured that students really felt they knew the story before attending and could get the most out of the experience. The quality of the students’work, certainly in music, was higher than similar projects in previous years without the live opera experience.”

Glyndebourne’s decision to expand the Performances for Schools initiative comes at a time of change for music education in schools. Government proposals to replace GCSEs with a baccalaureate system that omitted arts subjects from the core curriculum drew strong criticism from leading arts organisations including Glyndebourne. The plans were subsequently dropped but new changes to overhaul GCSE course specifications and reduce the role of coursework were announced earlier this month. New syllabuses for arts subjects will be published later this year and taught from 2016.

David Pickard, General Director of Glyndebourne said:

“Through our education work at Glyndebourne we come into contact with thousands of children of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. We see again and again how the arts enrich and sometimes change their lives, often when their families are unable to provide them with these opportunities themselves. The arts teach children so much more than simply drawing, playing an instrument, singing, dancing or acting. They teach them to think creatively; to interact effectively; to express themselves persuasively; and to believe in themselves; skills which are just as important in the world of work as fact-based learning.”

The Glyndebourne Tour visits seven locations across the country during October and November. This year for the first time, Norwich Theatre Royal and Milton Keynes Theatre will both host Glyndebourne Performances for Schools in the second consecutive year of growth for the initiative. Last year The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury and Theatre Royal Plymouth both hosted their first ever dedicated schools performances.

The 2013 Performances for Schools cater to students from years 3 – 13. Among the operas on stage for students to experience is Captain Blood’s Revenge, a new studio work commissioned by Glyndebourne especially for a younger audience. It was written by award-winning composer, Lynne Plowman and features illustrations by Jan Pienkowski, best known for his series of MEG & MOG books.

For older students Glyndebourne presents full-length stagings of Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel and L’elisir d’amore by Gaetano Donizetti.

Performances for Schools at Glyndebourne are made possible thanks to support from Arts Council England and investment from Glyndebourne’s New Generation Programme.