Above: Megan Washington and below: Sarah Storer
Opera Queensland will premiere a new music project in the Longreach Qantas Founders Museum on Saturday 24 November, with Composed in Queensland.
Students from 11 regional schools, including Longreach School of Distance Education, are working with Opera Queensland and guest artists, Megan Washington and Sara Storer, to craft songs that celebrate what they love about growing up in the Central West region.
The singer-songwriters began workshopping ideas with the budding composers via video conferencing sessions in late October alongside Music Director Jason Barry-Smith, soprano Irena Lysiuk and Opera Queensland’s Head of Learning, Regional and Community Mark Taylor.
The team will fly into the region from 12 November for a two-week residency to teach the young students the songs about their respective communities and guide them through rehearsals before they take to the stage on Saturday 24 November.
Opera Queensland and guest artists will spend two days in each of the five Central West shires working with students from local schools on vocal skills, stagecraft and the importance of collaboration and building self-confidence.
Opera Queensland’s Mark Taylor who is also a former principal of two of the participating schools – Stonehenge State School and Jundah State School – knows all too well the unique challenges facing students in central and western Queensland.
“There’s no escaping the harrowing impact of the drought but Composed in Queensland wants to celebrate the unique joy of living in this region that only these children know,” Mr Taylor said.
“Quite simply, opera is about telling a story through song and we think this is an opportunity all Queenslanders should have the chance to experience, regardless of where they live.
“So many of these students would not otherwise have the chance to see an opera, let alone take part in composing songs about their lives”
In keeping with this spirit of inclusion, the world premiere of Composed in Queensland will be simulcast to Brisbane for friends and supporters of Opera Queensland who can’t make the trek out west to share in the outcome of this ambitious project.
Schools participating in Composed in Queensland are:
Longreach State, Our Lady’s, Longreach, Longreach School of Distance Education, Ilfracombe State, Winton State, Blackall State, St Joseph’s Blackall, Jundah State, Stonehenge State, Windorah State and Barcaldine State.
Proceeds from Opera Queensland's 2018 Gala, All That Glitters, supports state-wide educational programs and initiatives such as Composed In Queensland, ensuring an ongoing offering for both local and regional students and community members.
Composed in Queensland is an Opera Queensland regional outreach project supported by the John Villiers Trust, Tim Fairfax Family Foundation, and the Mather Foundation.