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24 September 2014
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Big Screen

Royal Ballet, Swan Lake: picture by Johan Persson
Royal Ballet, Swan Lake

Working at the Royal Opera House

Sue Withers talks about her work at the Royal Opera House (she's the Orchestra Education Manager) and the live relays from the Opera House to the Big Screen.

I’ve been working at Covent Garden for nearly five years now and it’s a fantastic place to work. Everyone’s so passionate about what they do. No matter what their role is, there’s a real sense of energy and enthusiasm.

Sue in Wolverhampton
Sue in Wolverhampton

I spent my childhood in Wolverhampton, where I attended St Edmund’s comprehensive school and the Graisley Music Centre. I always knew that I wanted to do something musical, but I never dreamt that I’d end up working at the Royal Opera House in London.

I studied music at Goldsmiths’ College, London University. After some years teaching instrumentally and as a secondary school Head of Music, I entered the world of arts education.

Being creative

As the Orchestra Education Manager at the Royal Opera House, I devise and manage creative projects and events with young people, families and community groups, using music, drama, design and dance.

I work very closely with the Orchestra, encouraging them to participate in our extensive education programme. They are incredible musicians and being involved with them is what I enjoy most. 

School working with school children
School working with school children

I also enjoy working with singers from The Royal Opera and dancers from The Royal Ballet.

My work takes me as far as Cornwall in the South and Cumbria in the North. My position is diverse, very enjoyable and never dull!

I meet and work alongside some exceptional people. I remember my first education project at the Royal Opera House very well. I consulted Sir Simon Rattle about which section of music to use for a design and music project.

Sir Simon has always been an inspiration to me growing up in the West Midlands, as he was the Chief Conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra for many of my school years, so it was a real privilege to liaise with him.

Royal Opera House on the Big Screen

Sue working with an adult group
Sue working with an adult group

There are so many exciting things going on at the Royal Opera House and some of my favourite Summer events are the BP Summer Big Screen performances.

This is when performances from the Royal Opera House in London are relayed live to Big Screens around the UK.

I’m really pleased that Chamberlain Square, Birmingham is getting all three performances this year.

They are a great opportunity to see a world-class performance for free, and it’s a fantastic atmosphere.

It’s a way of reaching far more people than just those in the auditorium; it give people who might not be able to travel to the Royal Opera House the chance to see the shows.

Take a picnic!

Tamara Rojo as Odette, pic by Johan Persson
Tamara Rojo as Odette

You can take a picnic, a bottle of wine and share the experience with family and friends.

It's a great taster for new comers to opera and ballet and it’s up to you how long you stay.

In Birmingham on Thursday 31st May Swan Lake is being relayed at 7.30pm.

There will also be live entertainment taking place by the screen from 4.30pm onwards. The Dhol drummers, a blues, ballads & rock'n'roll group, students from the Conservatoire and a multicultural urban jazz group.

Rain or shine, it promises to be a lot of fun (our sponsors BP give out rainmacs if necessary!). We hope to see you there.

  • Swan Lake – 31st May @ 7.30pm
  • Don Giovanni – 13th June @ 7pm
  • Tosca – 3rd July @ 7.30pm
last updated: 30/05/07
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