STB News
Nicola Wydenbach, Director of Sing to Beat training has been working as Musical Director for HerStory an opera film featuring the creative talents of 85 members of the UK Parkinson’s community. The piece incorporated music, libretto, choreography and visual art co-created with members of the Parkinson’s community in a series of projects that began back in 2019. In the words of our original cast, the aim of the piece was ‘to show the world what people with Parkinson’s can do. With support from Arts Council England, working with partners Britten Pears Arts, English National Opera, Trinity Laban and MuMo Creative, a film of the opera was made for launch on World Parkinson’s Day 2023. To create the film, specialist Parkinson’s practitioners led a series of singing, dance and art workshops in Suffolk, London, Sussex, Oxford and online enabling around 120 participants to learn repertoire from HerStory, and/or create visual art for animation. Throughout autumn 2022 our film-making team visited each region to film and record sections of the opera. Supported by Britten Pears Arts, we recorded & filmed members of the East Suffolk Skylarks at the Kiln in Snape Maltings, with Sing to Beat leaders Rob Gildon & Steph Wakeman as well as movement director Sarah Lewis. We were fortunate to have the support of both Trinity Laban & English National Opera to film our London-based cast under the expert supervision of project director Nicola Wydenbach & dance artist Maria da Luz Ghoumrassi. In Oxford we worked with the lovely MuMo group filming at Oxford Town Hall courtroom & dance sections at Wesley Memorial Hall with artists Nia Williams, Louisa Dalton & Roosa Leimu-Brown. Finally, in Sussex we worked with two singing groups run by Sing to Beat leader Debra Skeen; the Tremorlos and Cuckoos, to film the opera’s drinking song in the dining room of The Dorset pub in Lewes. Performers sported nautical stripes and even brought along a collection of their own tankards. The film was first screened at Snape Maltings as part of the 2023 Aldeburgh Festival, where we also led intergenerational singing workshops with the East Suffolk Skylarks Parkinson’s singing group and local primary school children. In July 2023, Project Director Nicola Wydenbach and Artistic Director Amy Mallett headed to Barcelona, to share the learning from 4 years of HerStory projects at the 6th World Parkinson’s Congress.