Photo: Rey Trombetta

Roderick Williams and Streetwise Opera join forces…

World-renowned baritone Roderick Williams OBE and critically-acclaimed opera company and homeless charity Streetwise Opera join forces to stage an immersive retelling of Franz Schubert’s Winter Journey, in a new production that also features Grammy Award-winning pianist Christopher Glynn, the Brodsky Quartet, The Sixteen’s young artists’ scheme Genesis Sixteen, and the Ryedale Festival Community Chorus led by Em Whitfield Brooks.

After Winter, produced and commissioned by Streetwise Opera, from an original idea by Christopher Glynn, in partnership with Middlesbrough Town Hall and Ryedale Festival. It includes songs from Schubert’s Winterreise, translated into English by Jeremy Sams, and six new songs with original words and music by Errollyn Wallen MBE, with additional libretto by Hazel Gould and participants from Streetwise Opera’s workshops in Teesside who’ve been affected by homelessness.

The production is an uplifting story of hope. A stranger has arrived in town. He’s lost everyone and everything. But things are about to change.

After Winter will be staged at Middlesbrough Town Hall on Friday 10 and Saturday 11 July 2020 and Ryedale Festival on Sunday 12, directed by John Fulljames, Artistic Director of the Royal Danish Opera, conducted by Streetwise Opera’s Artistic Director, Hannah Conway, and with design by Anna Robinson.

The cast will include participants in Streetwise Opera’s free singing and creative workshops delivered weekly at Methodist Asylum Project Middlesbrough, in partnership with DePaul UK, and at Middlesbrough Town Hall.

The immersive production is staged around the concept of a communal feast, with performers and audience sitting together to share a meal whilst they also build bridges in the community. Following Middlesbrough’s commitment to healthy and sustainable food, ingredients for the meal will be from local producers and sustainable sources in collaboration with the Middlesbrough Food Partnership and Middlesbrough Environment City, a charity that promotes and encourages healthy and sustainable living.

Tickets for After Winter will go on sale in March 2020 on the Middlesbrough Town Hall and Ryedale Festival websites.

This production is possible thanks to generous funding by Arts Council England, Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust, Foyle Foundation, RVW Trust and the members of Streetwise Opera’s Commissioning Circle.

Participants in Streetwise Opera’s workshops in Teesside, said:

“We are excited and really looking forward to working in After Winter with these world-class professional artists. Of course we’re a bit nervous because we’ve never taken part in a project like this, but we will work hard and put our hearts and souls into every note we sing, to offer everyone in Teesside an unforgettable performance.”

Baritone Roderick Williams said:

“Even though I am a relative late-comer to performing Schubert’s iconic song cycle Winterreise, I have now sung it many times over the past few years, in German and in English, and have come to appreciate and marvel at its mesmeric effect on audiences and performers alike. Like so many artists before me, I want to immerse myself deeper into the experience and wrestle with the profound and sometimes maddening questions this extraordinary work can pose of us. I relish the chance to work amongst collaborative, creative colleagues who can enrich and extend the journey.”

John Fulljames, Artistic Director of the Royal Danish Opera, said:

“I have admired Streetwise Opera’s work for many years, and I’ve been impressed by the dedication, the commitment and the authenticity of their performances. I am delighted to work with them in this reimagining of Schubert’s Winter Journey. Together, we will make an exciting production that explores the value and the place of compassion in society, and how we come together in our differences to make communities.”

Composer Errollyn Wallen said:

“For me, being a composer is the best way of living. With this special Streetwise Opera commission I have another wonderful opportunity to explore, invent, collaborate and connect.”

Christopher Glynn, Artistic Director of the Ryedale Festival, said:

‘I’m thrilled that Streetwise Opera is partnering with Ryedale Festival to explore Schubert’s great song cycle Winter Journey. Streetwise performers and the Ryedale Festival Community Chorus will be at the heart of a wonderful team of artists who will together create new music and words that resonate with Schubert’s masterpiece. After Winter promises to be a unique and unforgettable experience for audiences across North Yorkshire and Teesside.’

Jacqueline Thomas of the Brodsky Quartet said:

“We are delighted to be returning to Middlesbrough, where we were formed in the ‘70s amongst the vibrant musical education scene there, for this fantastic production. We have been in the audience for several Streetwise Opera performances and thrilled at the warmth and energy they convey. Errollyn is a long term collaborator of ours and we look forward to working again with her and with Roderick and all the team. Like all String Quartets, Schubert is a composer very close to our hearts and none more relevant to this project: he himself was destitute and all but homeless at the end of his tragically short life.”

Harry Christophers, Founder and Conductor of The Sixteen, said:

“What an honour to be continuing our partnership with Streetwise Opera and to be involved in their brilliant and important work. Our collaboration on The Passion in 2016 was quite simply life-changing for all of us involved in the project. As a result we made a firm resolution to always keep in touch with Streetwise and we were delighted to be involved in Celebrating Leonardo da Vinci at Sounds Sublime last year. I am therefore so excited that singers from our Genesis Sixteen programme will get the opportunity to have this experience with After Winter.”

Councillor Mieka Smiles, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Culture & Communities, said:

“I’m thrilled that Streetwise Opera’s next major production will take place in Middlesbrough Town Hall. We are strong supporters of Streetwise and we’re very lucky to have the organisation in this area.”

Phillip Spurr, Programme Director for Economic Development at Ryedale District Council, said:

“As a Council we’re delighted to be supporting the collaboration between Streetwise Opera and Ryedale Festival. Streetwise Opera is a company that has a social as well as an artistic purpose, which absolutely fits with our own agenda as a Council. I’m sure this will be a really rewarding experience for both participants and audiences alike.”

Read more about After Winter.

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