8 July 2014 at 3.27pm | Comment on this article
This year’s FUSED Festival came to a close at the Backstage Centre in Thurrock with a powerful world premiere of A Little Thing Called Life. Created and performed by RM19 – the Royal Opera House Thurrock Youth Vocal Group – the piece took inspiration from the themes of Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem, cleverly mixing singing, chanting, rap music and hip-hop with drumming, guitar playing, clapping and inventive staging. The 70 performers, many of them in their teens, delivered a compelling message about the feelings, desires, hopes and aspirations of young people.
Joshua Ridgway, performer, 14
'It was a great experience. I love performing. I used to do ballet and have seen a few operas, but this was completely different from anything I’ve done. It’s good to come out of my shell and do what I love. And this took it to the next level. I was able to mix with so many different people. It was the best experience I’ve ever had.'
Aurora Barrett, performer, 15
'I’ve found lots of people here in Thurrock with the same sort of ambitions and fun personality that I have. I loved singing with them, and we made our own production! It was packed with all of our emotions, all of our feelings. We wanted to express how we felt towards different aspects of society. And although we may born in different communities or have different ethnicities, we are united in this society.'
James Green, performer, 15
'It was a brilliant experience. I performed in the circle, playing the djembe, an African percussion instrument. Being a musician, it’s great to be able to create ideas and get to perform them. It makes you feel happier to be doing that. It’s a lot more inspiring. It’s a great feeling knowing that you’ve written the piece, you’re performing it and you’re the one who is making it brilliant.'
Audrey Stowers, James’ great-aunt
'I’m so, so proud of James. It’s unbelievable what he’s doing. Tonight was lovely, really beautiful. I liked all of it, the music, the singing, the choreography. These programmes [by the Royal Opera House] are very important in our community, because they give the children opportunities and things to do. When I was in school, there was nothing like that around here.'
Shay D, Lyricist
'It’s been amazing working with all of these young people. Everything on the show tonight was made by them. My job was to get their emotions and feelings out, get them to write the lyrics, to write down little stories. Obviously they were learning about Verdi’s Requiem, so they got to see that, like in opera, it’s all about expression and really deep emotions. It’s been incredible!'
RM19 is free to join and open to anyone aged 11–25 who lives, works or studies in Thurrock. For more details and to find out how you can join, please visit our website. RM19 is generously supported by the Ernest Cook Trust, Julian Metherell, the Lucille Graham Trust, Bernarr Rainbow Trust and Thurrock Borough Council.