We asked our Senior members of Garsington Opera Youth Company to reflect on their experiences creating The Moon is Listening this past year, as well as their time in the Youth Company more generally. Find out what they think by reading some of their responses below.
Outside of the Youth Company I play piano and violin, and I have been part of a drama group. However, because I have been part of the Youth Company for a long time, I did most of this at the same time. I really like the combination of singing and acting that the Youth Company offers and I have met several good friends through it. I really like The Moon is Listening because of the input from us and other children around the world. It feels more personal and important because these are real stories. I think opera is an interesting medium to tell these experiences through and it is certainly different to many more classic operas – and in my opinion more interesting because of that. I’ve really enjoyed singing in multiple languages, as I like languages (though I’m not very good at them)! A friend of mine taught me some basic Arabic a few years ago and I have studied it a bit since then. It is very satisfying to be able to recognise some of what we are singing about! Generally, you have to focus a lot more on pronunciation which changes the way we lean the music. One of my most memorable moments from the Youth Company was when my friends and I were newts in Road Rage (2013) and our teacher came running in the next day screaming that we were in the newspaper. What I really like is that we do different things every year, so it doesn’t get boring.
Before the Youth Company I had no experience of drama, but a little in music, when I played in recitals for cello. It’s been really fun, and useful to help me improve my skills. The Moon is Listening was created by lots of people from different areas and backgrounds, which I think is really important, because it helps make the opera more diverse, and it showcases themes which are really important. I think the show is about how even though we can all be in different places, we’re all connected. Also, singing in different languages is interesting, because you have to really think about how you’re saying what you’re saying and the pronunciation of every word. My most memorable moment with Garsington Opera Youth Company was being onstage for the first time, because in the beginning you’re nervous but eventually you get over it and have fun.
Outside of the Youth Company I do singing lessons and LAMDA drama lessons. I have also been part of lots of choirs and school plays so I love the performing arts. I was part of the devising process for The Moon is Listening and found it very interesting to work with the views and opinions of people from lots of different countries. I think this show is about spreading awareness across the globe and I enjoy singing in other languages, however sometimes the pronunciation can be difficult. I think the week leading up to our performance of Dalia is my most memorable moment with the Youth Company at Garsington Opera so far. I got to spend lots of time with the other Youth Company members and really got to know them. I think that the Youth Company is a great place to make new friends and create amazing memories.
I’ve not really had much experience of music and drama before joining the Youth Company, I’ve done school choirs and things like that, but nothing outside of school. I think that this show, The Moon is Listening, is about representing people’s dreams, goals, and barriers and showing how it can differ around the world. Singing in the different languages was quite challenging but I also found them interesting to learn. I love being around so many young people who share the same passion as me and it has always been a highlight of the Youth Company productions.
I already did piano from the age of 7 for 7 years and singing from age 10 for 4 years (grade 8 for both) before joining the Youth Company, and I actually found out about it from my choir. I really enjoy music as a whole (apart from theory!) and I’ll be taking it for GCSE, so being a part of the Youth Company is something I really like. The Moon is Listening was created with input from groups of young people all around the world – in the UK, Lebanon, Syria, Italy and Palestine – so it is a project which connects a huge number of people, internationally. It makes the show really special because it means I am part of something that is more than just a performance. Also, before joining the Youth Company, I had only really sung in Latin (for my exams) and English, so it is quite cool to be singing in such a variety of languages. My most memorable moment was at the end of the last Dalia (2022) performance last year, because it was like everything we’d been working for was accomplished and it gave me a greats sense of achievement. Also, I liked doing rehearsals with the professional singers in Dalia last year because they were really good! I love in performances when everything comes together and everyone is working together. Being in the Youth Company is a great experience and I definitely will come back next year.
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I have had very little experience with music and drama before joining the Youth Company. I joined when I was 10 years old, and having not much experience at school, the Youth Company at Garsington was a new and exciting prospect. In the three years I have been here, it has encouraged me to reach out for more experience with music and drama too. For example, I started piano when I was 12 and I am now working on my Grade 2, after being inspired by Garsington’s pianists. The way that Garsington has reached out to other young people, to create The Moon is Listening, really makes me feel included as a young person. It makes me feel that our voices are being heard and listened to. I think the show is about sharing stories across the world, mixing and blending everyone’s life experiences, teaching and learning with others everywhere. I have always had a love of languages and being able to reach out and connect with other communities. Singing in other languages that aren’t as commonly taught in schools, such as Italian and Arabic, has been a huge eye-opener for me. I have learnt to make connections between languages such as French, Spanish, and German, and the languages we have been singing in. One of my favourite Youth Company moments was last year in Dalia, I loved listening to the true stories of people who were refugees. I thought that knowing our opera related to so many people really interested me. I loved seeing other people’s views and experiences, including working through different languages. I loved making new connections.
My previous experiences of drama and music have all differed from this youth company. I find it cool that this Youth Company is very diverse with members coming from different counties, as well as London, and it’s very inclusive to everybody. Everyone gets along and there doesn’t seem to be any cliques. It’s a wonderful opportunity you can’t find anywhere else and is unique compared to other youth or performance companies. I love the anecdote aspect of The Moon is Listening. It seems unreal that Karen, the director, actually visits and works with the children in the camp, because usually we only hear about stories like these, and here we are incorporating people who might not have a voice otherwise. The origins of the plot means so much more to me than those of other shows/musicals, not only because it’s something new and creative, but also such a beautiful harmonious act to have the show connect people from all over the world and be based on so many different individuals. I’ve always liked speaking different languages and this piece not only introduces and develops our performance and singing skills, but the languages educate us with different cultures and help us understand people with different backgrounds from us easier.
Though I already had experience of music and drama, I found that the Youth Company really helped to improve my awareness and confidence, particularly in acting and it is one of the reasons I keep coming back. I think you will also struggle to find such good opportunities for singing, let alone on a big stage with an orchestra. Being a part of the Youth Company has really encouraged me to pursue singing and opera further. I think The Moon is Listening is about showing the links between different countries and how everyone is connected. To me, it meant that even though we aren’t always in the same place as the people we care about, you can still reach them. Before this show I was already learning French, Italian, and German as part of my degree, however the Arabic has been a really interesting challenge that I may carry on with. I am enjoying learning and singing in Italian as well. My most memorable moment with the Youth Company is from Eliza and the Swans (2018), when the king shouted at me onstage for losing his children and the dance for the feast of the swan. It’s a really lovely company, and they’re a pleasure to work with on such an interesting project.
Before joining the Youth Company I went to a drama club when I was younger called Future Stars. I found it really fun. I also play grade 7 piano and so I can read music well. Reading music is a really useful skill as it is like a language that anyone in the world can learn and understand. The Moon is Listening is about songs spreading around the world. Hamido, the main character, knows the songs as the Breeze pushes them from one place to another. The Moon listens to everything that Hamido sings, Breeze is cheeky, quick and cunning however the Moon is wise and peaceful. I have started learning Italian, one of the languages we sing in, as I think it is a good language to learn. It is nice to learn as you can sing in other languages and know the meaning of what you are learning. My favourite part of being involved in the Youth Company so far was Dalia last year (2022), where we had a mini party afterwards and I loved performing on the stage and having a huge bow at the end of the show.
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