Calder Valley flood opera wins Royal Philharmonic Society Award

Calderdland at The Piece Hall. Picture: Sarah Mason.
Calderdland at The Piece Hall. Picture: Sarah Mason.

Calderland, a folk opera about the impact of the devastating floods of Boxing Day 2015, won the Royal Philharmonic Society [RPS] Music Award for Learning and Participation last night (Wednesday).

Calderland – commissioned and created by Bradford based 509 Arts – was an ambitious community opera by composer Richard Taylor, librettist Mike Kenny and director Alan Dix who worked with the people of Calder Valley alongside a committed group of partners.

The judges, made up of an eminent jury from the music profession, were particularly struck by the inclusive nature of the workshop and rehearsal process leading to the final performances, and by the clear evidence that the project has created an energetic musical legacy.

The judges commented: “Calderland celebrates the resilience, recovery and reinvention of this community following the devastating floods of 2015. With a compelling narrative and sophisticated musical language, this is the kind of artistic experience that changes lives.”

Alan Dix added: “Calderland was many months in the making and became an extraordinary collaboration between the 509 Arts team and the communities and organisations of the Calder Valley. Together they demonstrated how a positive and uplifting story can come out of challenging times. Calderland is truly a love letter to the Calder Valley and this award is a brilliant tribute to everyone who worked to make it such a great success.”

Calderland was performed in the vast open-air piazza of The Piece Hall over three consecutive evenings from 29 September – 1 October 2017. A community choir of over 150 local singers were recruited at workshops across the valleys and included four choirs from nearby primary schools, under the guidance of choir director Em Whitfield Brooks, alongside a core band of local musicians.