There hasn’t been a locally-based music teacher in the Cunnamulla region for a number of years, but in October music was the focus for many students. Workshops with school students from Cunnamulla, Eulo and Charleville took place in Cunnamulla from 17 to 20 October 2017.
OperaQ’s Head of Music Narelle French, OperaQ artists Clarissa Foulcher and Nick Kirkup and guest artist Caitlin Wall from ACPA (Aboriginal Centre for Performing Arts) spent the week working with students from Cunnamulla State School, Sacred Heart Parish School and Eulo State School to develop their singing and stagecraft skills.
The workshops had planned to l culminate with a performance on Friday at the Cunnamulla State School Fête. The schoolfete was cancelled due to inclement weather but the students still performed in a concert at the school and also did a performance on the main street in town - a real symbol of this community's resilience and can-do attitude.
OperaQ’s Executive Director Sandra Willis is passionate about the critical role community engagement programs play in the work of Queensland’s state opera company.
“OperaQ’s Open Stage program takes opera, a 400-year-old art form, out of the city theatres and into regional and remote classrooms and communities around the state, offering innovative artistic and educational opportunities and bringing the magic of opera to new audiences. OperaQ is committed to ensuring all Queenslanders have access to high-quality operatic experiences, regardless of where they live in the state,” said Ms Willis.
OperaQ’s Manager — Open Stage Mark Taylor has worked with multiple communities around Queensland on school and community workshops and regional tours and emphasised the importance of authentic engagement.
“We work with incredible artists and educators for our Open Stage programs but it’s critical to work closely with local communities as well to ensure that each offering is as relevant, beneficial and enjoyable as possible, which is exactly what we’re doing in Cunnamulla,” said Mr Taylor.
Cunnamulla State School Principal, Karen Campbell said
"Iwas absolutely amazed at the level of engagement and their ability to sing with such a strong voice. All students were totally committed by turning up to both workshops and performing in front of a crowd.
For our students Opera is very new to them but they embraced the opportunity with enthusiasm. One student who we often cannot keep in a classroom for any length of time due to her disability participated and performed with pride. We have now found something that we can continue to support her on to engage in school successfully.
Our staff that participated in the workshop were thrilled with the opportunity to perform with the outstanding Opera Queensland members. They learnt just as much as the students and shared their surprise with the level of engagement of our students."
The tour has been made possible throughWe Are Queensland, a Queensland Governmentinitiative that funds community-led projects across the state, bringing together Queenslanders to be more involved in their communities and encouraging a society where everyone is respected and welcome to make a positive and valued contribution to the community.