The period January 2018 to June 2019 has seen Nicholas create and direct 3 significant education projects. The projects have already had a transforming impact on the musical lives of children in some of the most economically deprived areas of the UK. The partnership between Nevill Holt Opera and the 34 primary and secondary academies of the David Ross Education Trust has been integral to the growth and mission of Nevill Holt Opera. In June 2018, Nicholas was commissioned to write an opera resource for 14-18 year olds by The Royal Opera House.

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Nevill Holt Opera Songbook project with secondary schools in Northampton, Corby, Grantham, Loughborough, Grimsby, Spilsby, Skegness, Coningsby and Boston. Nicholas created a songbook of 14 Italian Bel Canto arias. This project was designed to discover voices of significant potential at secondary school level (11-18 year olds). 100 students from 10 schools received singing coaching from Nicholas and the Nevill Holt young artists. This enabled a youth choir to be formed – this choir has now performed with Gabrieli Consort, and has taken part in projects with the Britten Sinfonia. This is a significant journey for students who had never sung in an SATB choir until a year ago.

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Nevill Holt Opera Songbook students with Nic

Royal Opera House Songbook– The ROH have commissioned Nicholas to author a book of arrangements of famous opera arias for children. The book will comprise of 18 arrangements. It will introduce children to the emotions expressed in opera plots and each arrangement can be learned in a single workshop, can be adapted to be staged and can form part of a curriculum based programme. Workshops have already taken place in the Skegness, Grimsby and Northampton. The Youth Opera Company at ROH have also been working on the arrangements with Nicholas. Designed as a perfect introduction to opera and a way to develop children’s learning, Nicholas and the ROH will make the songbook available as a free online resource with supporting materials on vocal techniques and staging guidance.

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Nic and Berty Rice working on The ROH Songbook with students in Northampton

‘Through the forest have I gone’ Education project – this project was designed to introduce primary and secondary students to the music of Benjamin Britten and the text of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Nicholas and director Anna Morrissey created an abridged version of the play and integrated Britten’s music. Primary students learnt the music and the role of Puck and secondary students performed the roles of the Lovers and Mechanicals. 400 students took part in the creation of project in 12 schools in the Midlands. Each school received 4 visits with movement, singing and acting workshops.


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