Our Professional Experience Scheme with the Orchestra of Opera North is designed to give woodwind, brass and percussion students first-hand experience as an orchestral musician in professional opera productions.
The scheme involves professional coaching from Opera North players and prepares students for real-world scenarios through a series of practical sessions, including auditions, rehearsals and performances.
Multiple woodwind, brass and percussion classes are given to students in all years, consisting of coaching on operatic excerpts led by players from the orchestra. All those who have applied for the scheme will use these sessions as preparation ahead of an audition with a panel of Opera North players, from which they will select a smaller number of students to progress to the next stage.
The final stages of the scheme at the RNCM are side-by-side sectional rehearsals with the entire Opera North woodwind, brass and percussion sections, conductor and repetiteur. This is an opportunity to look at a wide range of operatic repertoire, and being able to sit and play between professional players enables students to receive immediate verbal feedback and guidance, which is an invaluable experience.
Following this, a small number of selected students in each section are invited to join the full Orchestra of Opera North, rehearsing in and observing a number of rehearsals at the Leeds Grand Theatre. This provides a different experience to playing with only the orchestra sections (along with the added element of being in the pit) and means that students can adapt and improve as they play with the orchestra on multiple occasions. Students who impress sufficiently in these rehearsals may then be invited to take the seat of a player and perform in a performance.
A high percentage of those who complete the scheme are often added to the Opera North extras list, who then go on to be offered professional work with the Orchestra.