Welcome to Magdala...
…a unique artist-led community organisation run by Michelle Wegwart and Tim Lole, whose purpose is to open up opportunities for people from all backgrounds to develop singing and performance skills in ways that encourages creativity, self-expression and self belief and to encourage appreciation and understanding of music and singing in the community through first-class performances in venues accessible to all.
Established in Nottingham in 1989 by international voice coach Michelle Wegwart, Magdala has demonstrated that the techniques employed in singing and performance can act as a highly effective model for learning and personal development. This unique approach has applications, professional as well as personal, for both individuals and organisations
Magdala's principal focus today is on its Opera Start Education Programme, a unique initiative that engages young people, often from the most deprived communities and circumstances, in challenging, creative projects and performances. Magdala's acclaimed formula uses teams of its own students in a circular learning programme, alongside professional singers and musicians, building self-belief amongst the young people taking part and encouraging them to strive for excellence.
The principle of Opera Start is that workshops are run in schools and communities, based around a particular opera and involving the participants in a whole range of creative activities (composing music, designing costumes and props, improvising dance, singing and acting) which culminate in a public performance.
Magdala's students are people of all abilities and from every possible background who enjoy the experience of making music together and at the same time aspire to achieve the highest possible musical standards, individually and collectively.
Until 2010, the students performed together on a regular basis as the Magdala Chorus. Now, as a result of cuts, public performances are limited to student concerts and occasional events when the opportunity arises to re-create the Magdala magic!
In everything that Magdala does, the emphasis is on training and personal development - for the Magdala students, for the participants in Opera Start workshops, for teachers and community leaders involved, and for other organisations, public and private, who appreciate the benefits of the unique Magdala approach in terms of team development, confidence building, unlocking potential and raising aspirations.
Magdala has a Europe-wide network of semi-professional and professional associates - voice coaches and singers - many of whom participate in the Opera Start workshops and other Magdala events. Additionally, led by Magdala's Director Michelle Wegwart, they benefit from on-going, one-to-one professional development and attend an annual Train the Trainers programme, designed to consolidate technical knowledge and build on existing coaching skills.
2012 sees Magdala working towards not only sustaining the Opera Start links we have made over the years, but also developing new partnerships. We have recently run Taster Workshop days, funded by Danielle Beccan Memorial Trust, at Nottingham Academy and Djanogly Academy.
We are returning to Ashfield District Council in April, where we have a new Opera Start Community Project starting, funded through Nottinghamshire County Council Arts Fund and Ashfield District Council.