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Raise Your Voice

Raise Your Voice is an opera project for local people living with dementia

About Raise Your Voice

Raise Your Voice is an opera project for local people living with dementia and their carers.

Raise Your Voice sessions are a welcoming and friendly place for people with dementia and their carers to be creative and enjoy spending time together as part of a bigger group. Sessions always include lots of singing, some drama, art and craft, as well as time to chat over tea or coffee. The year is divided up into four terms (spring, summer, autumn and winter) of five sessions, each with a different focus on the opera theme, through various genres of music.

For 12 years, the Learning & Engagement department managed the Raise Your Voice choir but as of 2021, Raise Your Voice became a registered charity in its own right. If you would like to learn more about Raise Your Voice, or enquire about becoming a member, please visit the Raise Your Voice website.

Raise Your Voice Winter Project 2020

A note from Director Freya Wynn-Jones

When the pandemic hit we were resolved to find a way to stay connected with our Raise Your Voice participants. This year we were determined to still bring a burst of opera into the lives of our members. As the lockdown begun to ease, we were ready to deliver something more ambitious, capturing the essence of the winter project as closely as possible and using the restrictions to inform how we would innovate (several times over) to make the work. Our focus was Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore.

Could we retell the story of the opera looking back on the events from the perspective of this couple after a long and happy life together? And could we infuse it with the perspective, insight and stories of our members?

Thankfully, following an epic safety plan by the Learning & Engagement Team, we were able to do our initial visits in gardens in tiny teams of workshop leader, Royal Academy musician and a wild plan. Alongside our instruments we brought a handful of gifts: a series a love letters (from the Tristan and Isolde story which features in the opera), a potion bottle with a recipe for happiness inside it and a cutting from the Glyndebourne garden. We sang music from the opera, improvised, composed, danced about to keep warm and enjoyed good conversation. We explored the place they call home, making the first move, magical potions and happy ever afters. Some wonderful stories were shared and some beautiful ideas were formed.

Our second residency was impacted by the announcement of a second lockdown. In a celebration of resilience, everyone involved in the project was determined this shouldn’t be an end to the work. In the gap between the two stages, we had been hard at work cataloguing, structuring and creating a final piece of storytelling. Our second intensive ran online with Open Academy students who threw themselves into recording from home capturing their music as well as creating video footage for us on behalf of our Members.

Playfulness and creativity was the name of the game – I presented a series of provocations (exploring books, letters and bottles) and they made some creative offers. Eight months into restrictions, many of our members had now managed to embrace the benefits of Zoom and our hearts soared to run a series of remote sessions with our full company on screen. We used this time to reconnect, rehearse our music (new and old) and craft a series of potions which are companions to this piece.

Just before Christmas we got the go ahead to do a final set of garden visits. We were desperate to capture some of our participant’s involvement, to facilitate them to record their voices and to create the voiceover for the piece which would steer our narrative of Nemorino and Adina.

The edit has been a hugely rewarding and provoking process for the artistic team. We wanted the piece to be something our members could reflect on with pride and ensure they would recognise themselves and their contribution in the finished piece. Using verbatim text, it began to feel part-documentary part-drama, which we leaned into. Much like our winter project, the faces, stories and voices of our members are embedded and intertwined within the narrative of Adina and Nemorino’s own story. Often it parallels, sometimes it diverges but together it explores the feelings of home, of love, of mistakes and of contentment.


Open Academy
Each year the Raise Your Voice project collaborates with Open Academy, the Royal Academy of Music’s community and participation department. Through electives at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, students are offered seminars and workshops alongside hands-on experience in the field. Open Academy also offers fellowships to graduating students who will be the future leaders of this work.


Raise Your Voice Company

Carol and Philip Dover
Peter Dyer
Alun and Chris Jones
Ken Kemp
Brian Leaney
Jennifer and Michael Lucas
Francoise Sens-Salis
Keith and Val Thompson
Karen Watts

Joanna Armstrong
Anne Hagan
Gabrielle Murray
Caroline Smale

Cast List

Carol Dover

Philip Dover

David Stout

Repetiteur for Dulcamara
Susannah Wapshott

Creative Team

Pianist and Facilitator
Nancy Cooley

Music Director/Composer and Music Supervisor
Raphael Clarkson

Choir Director and Co-Creator
Jane Haughton

Freya Wynn-Jones

Sound Mixer
Myles Eastwood

Online Editor
Nathalie Miles

Head of Learning & Engagement
Lucy Perry

Project Coordinator
Kate Simner

Office Coordinator
Beth Ellwood

Royal Academy of Music

Isabel Irvine

Ruihan Kee

Assistant Director and Baritone
Ben Knight

French Horn
Lynn Henderson

Jonathan Mayers

Chloe Meade

Composition and Arrangement
Electra Perivolaris

Francesca Pringle

RAM Open Academy Administrator and Projects Manager
Mateja Kaluza

RAM Head of Open Academy
Julian West

Episode 1
Episode 2

You can also listen to the podcast on Soundcloud

Glyndebourne’s Learning & Engagement programme is made possible thanks to Arts Council England and generous donations through Glyndebourne’s New Generation Programme.

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