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King’s Lynn stars shine in debut opera

Young singers and musicians at Springwood High School showcased their musical talents in an opera, impressing audiences with the high quality of the production.

The performers were taking part in the school’s first opera, Birdland, created by Bob Chilcott, and relates the tale of Pip the sparrow’s quest to be accepted into the Dawn Chorus. The little bird encounters characters such as the Doc Rock Peacocks, Shamira the Nightingale, and the residents of The Bewilderness.

“The performance was a wonderful occasion and all the students really rose to the challenge of an opera, with strong vocal performances and stage presence throughout,” said Head of Music at Springwood and Director of Music at the Trust.

“We gave two performances – one in the afternoon to a large group of primary school children and then a public performance in the evening. Through the course of the day, over 300 people saw the opera, and the feedback was wonderful, with everyone thoroughly enjoying the experience.

“One parent stopped me on the way out to let me know that her daughter had been to the primary school performance in the afternoon, and then gone home and nagged her mum – she had enjoyed it that much that she was nagging to go back to see it again in the evening! Her mum told me she could see why.”

Supported by Springwood’s Cantabene Choir, leads in the production included Chantelle Verdad as Pip and Logan Petterson-Cooper as the Doc Rock Peacocks, while other students worked on sound and lighting, and many of the school’s musicians played within the accompanying orchestra.

“For me, the highlight of the show was watching the students really rise to the occasion to do something that was well outside their comfort zone,” continued Mr Norman.

 “There were amazing solo performances, but also delicate duet moments and rousing chorus numbers, all performed in a highly professional manner, and all accompanied by an orchestra that was made up entirely of Springwood students past and present.

“They all found the work on Birdland really challenging. However, following the performance, there was a real ‘buzz’ and they were all on a real high from the experience and very proud of themselves – and justifiably so.”

The project was overseen by Springwood music teacher Samantha Ashby, the conductor of Cantabene.

“Putting on a production such as this one is no small feat for any experienced theatre group, but for a school choir to do it in the way they did took determination, team work, and sheer tenacity of every person involved,” added Mr Norman. 

“This was a real team game from start to finish, and watching the youngsters grow and rise to the occasion, to put on not one, but two, professional-level performances in one day, was a real achievement – I could not have been more proud of everyone.”