Raise Your Voice
Raise Your Voice is an opera project for local people living with dementia
About Raise Your Voice
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.
Raise Your Voice Company
Carol and Philip Dover
Alun and Chris Jones
Jennifer and Michael Lucas
Keith and Val Thompson
Repetiteur for Dulcamara
Pianist and Facilitator
Music Director/Composer and Music Supervisor
Choir Director and Co-Creator
Head of Learning & Engagement
Royal Academy of Music
Assistant Director and Baritone
Composition and Arrangement
RAM Open Academy Administrator and Projects Manager
RAM Head of Open Academy
Glyndebourne’s Learning & Engagement programme is made possible thanks to Arts Council England and generous donations through Glyndebourne’s New Generation Programme.