Opera Sets Sail On The Bridgewater Canal

Posted on October 16, 2014

Bridgewater Canal Salford

Six Salford primary schools are adding an unusual twist to their history lessons – by writing and staging their own opera.

Around 600 pupils in years 5 and 6 will work with musicians, a composer and dramatist from Manchester Camerata to create three original performances about the past, present and future of the Bridgewater Canal in Salford.

The  project is part of Salford City Council’s four year plan to regenerate the historic Bridgewater Canal with the help of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Deputy City Mayor Councillor David Lancaster said: “The Bridgewater Canal was unique and pioneering – so what better way to celebrate that than giving children the chance to create and perform a brand new opera?

“It’s about bringing the canal’s history alive and introducing a whole new audience to its amazing stories.  Primary schools from across the canal are pairing up for each opera and we are aiming to get older members of these schools’ communities involved too – including any grandparents who have hidden talents. The project offers a real opportunity for Salford residents to work with a world-renowned orchestra to celebrate a local landmark and produce something to be proud of.”

Nick Ponsillo, Manchester Camerata’s Head of Learning and Participation said: “Working with Camerata’s professional musicians and composers to develop lyrics, melodies and drama is a fantastic way for children to learn and develop new confidence and skills.  It will also prove an unusual  musical treat for their families and friends.”

“The children will explore the real life stories and personalities of the people who made the canal to create the characters in their operas, and will even help design sets and create costumes.  At the end of the project all three performances will be put together to create a film telling the whole story of the canal.”

Pupils from St Mark’s CE primary school and the Bridgewater School, Worsley will start the ball rolling with workshops in early November. Their performance, about the canal’s past will take place at the University of Salford in November 14.

In February and March next year, pupils from Westwood Park primary school, Eccles and St Andrew’s CE primary school Boothstown will research and perform the second part of the opera about the canal’s present and the cycle will complete in March with performances about the future of the canal from pupils at Beech Street primary school and Godfrey Ermen Memorial CE primary school, both in Eccles.