Three 15-minute operas, composed by the winners of Opera Sparks –  the competition launched in 2016 to find Scotland’s most talented young composers and writers – are being performed by Scottish Opera’s Connect Company in April in celebration of its 10th anniversary, and as part of the Year of Young People 2018.

Connect, Scottish Opera’s youth company for 16 to 21 year old singers, instrumentalists and stage managers, joined by professional soloists Lise Christensen and Hazel McBain, will take to the stage on Saturday 7 April, at 2pm and 7pm, to perform Maud by composer/librettist Henry McPherson; Little Black Lies by composer/librettist team Matthew Whiteside and Helene Grøn; and Then To The Elements by Lewis Murphy and Laura Attridge. Olivia Fuchs directs, with designer Karen Tennent transforming SWG3’s newest venue, Galvanizers, a 6000 square foot warehouse into an exciting performance space.

The winners, announced in January 2017, were awarded a commissioning fee of £3,500 and receive mentoring support throughout the creative process.

Maud by Henry McPherson, founding member of Glasgow-based artists’ collective Crosslines, is a modern retelling of a traditional folk tale. Little Black Lies, composed by Glasgow-based Matthew Whiteside, explores the stories we tell ourselves in order to cope better with reality, and has a libretto by Danish playwright and poet, Helene Grøn. Then To The Elements takes its inspiration from Frankenstein, and is a modern tale of parenthood written by Lewis Murphy, graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and a Glyndebourne Young Composer in Residence, and Laura Attridge, a director and writer from Glasgow.

Open to young composers who are Scottish or based in Scotland, the Opera Sparks entries were judged by a panel consisting of Derek Clark (Scottish Opera’s Head of Music), Olivia Fuchs (Opera Director), Christopher Gray (Director of Scottish Opera’s Connect Company) and Stuart Stratford (Scottish Opera’s Music Director), with Scottish Opera’s General Director, Alex Reedijk, as convener.

Jane Davidson, Scottish Opera’s Director of Outreach and Education, said: ‘It is very exciting for Connect to be able to celebrate its 10th anniversary in April, coinciding with the 2018 Year of Young People, with three new commissions by talented young composers and librettists. Over the past 10 years, we have invited over 500 young people from all over Scotland to experience being part of Scotland’s only opera programme for young people, as part of our commitment to creating a lasting legacy for the future of the artform.

‘The Opera Sparks trilogy will be the last conducting role for Connect’s outgoing director Chris Gray. He has spent the past 10 years nurturing, inspiring and challenging young musicians to achieve the best possible results in a learning environment that perfectly balances minimum levels of pretension with maximum levels of fun and enjoyment – all underpinned by a great deal of hard work and commitment.’

Olivia Fuchs said: ‘Opera Sparks is made up of three little gems, all very different and written in diverse musical languages.  A common thread links them thematically, however, as they explore the psychological journeys of individuals having to deal with the complexities of our contemporary world.

Performed by a talented group of young people, audiences will be immersed in a magical world of storytelling in the atmospheric Galvanizers warehouse.’

The Year of Young People 2018 is a year-long programme of events, activities and ideas to celebrate the young talents, personalities and achievements of those aged eight to 26.

Performance Diary


Galvanizers, SWG3, 100 Eastvale Place, Glasgow G3 8QG

Saturday 7 April, 2pm and 7pm

Tickets are available through TicketWeb


By phone: 0844 477 1000