Rehearsals underway for community opera featuring military veterans and young people from Aylesbury

Garsington Opera rehearsal ahead of Silver Birch, a community opera being performed in Wormsley - pictured at Aylesbury Music Centre are some of the group. Photo: Derek Pelling
Garsington Opera rehearsal ahead of Silver Birch, a community opera being performed in Wormsley - pictured at Aylesbury Music Centre are some of the group. Photo: Derek Pelling
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The countdown is on to the staging of an opera in Wormsley this weekend which features 180 people from across Buckinghamshire.

Former military personnel, students from primary and secondary schools, artists from Pinewood Studios and members of Wycombe Women’s Aid are among those coming together alongside professional singers and members of the Aylesbury Youth Orchestra for three performances of the opera Silver Birch on the main stage at Garsington Opera from Friday 28 to Sunday 30 July.

Garsington Opera rehearsal ahead of Silver Birch, a community opera being performed in Wormsley - pictured at Aylesbury Music Centre. Photo: Derek Pelling.

Garsington Opera rehearsal ahead of Silver Birch, a community opera being performed in Wormsley - pictured at Aylesbury Music Centre. Photo: Derek Pelling.

Among the 180 strong cast is Topsy Turner, 69, who is part of the military veterans group.

Topsy, who lives in Aylesbury, served in the Royal Navy all over the world, and although he has done some amateur dramatics in the past, he has never sung as part of a group before.

Topsy said: “I was at a veterans breakfast event when I heard about this community opera and that they were looking for ex-service people to take part.

“I auditioned to be part of the male chorus and I was delighted to be accepted.

Garsington Opera rehearsal ahead of Silver Birch, a community opera being performed in Wormsley - pictured at Aylesbury Music Centre. Photo: Derek Pelling.

Garsington Opera rehearsal ahead of Silver Birch, a community opera being performed in Wormsley - pictured at Aylesbury Music Centre. Photo: Derek Pelling.

“We are on stage throughout the show and there is quite a bit of movement around the stage.

“Rehearsals have been going very well - we started in February in a school hall, then moved to a community centre and now we are rehearsing on the main stage.

“Everyone is very welcoming and I am really enjoying being part of it.”

Topsy joined the Royal Navy in 1963 aged 15 and was based at HMS Ganges in Suffolk, before serving in the Far East including in Borneo and Malaysia.

Rehearsals ahead of Silver Birch at Wormsley this weekend. Pictured in the wheelchair is Luke Delahunty from Aylesbury. Photo by John Snelling. PNL-170724-114515001

Rehearsals ahead of Silver Birch at Wormsley this weekend. Pictured in the wheelchair is Luke Delahunty from Aylesbury. Photo by John Snelling. PNL-170724-114515001

Another Aylesbury man who is part of the military veterans company is Luke Delahunty, an ex-senior aircraftman who experienced a life changing motorbike accident in 1996 which has left him paralysed from the chest down.

Luke said: “I’m always looking for new adventures and this is a completely new type of challenge for me; with its ups and downs and pressures to perform.

“It’s not easy but I am immensely enjoying the experience and working with such a professional organisation.”

Other local people taking part are Beverley Evans who is part of the adult chorus and Aylesbury students Connor Simpson and Benjamin Bliss (both playing the violin) and Sarah White (playing the clarinet).

Rehearsals ahead of the opera Silver Birch at Garsington Opera, Wormsley. Picture by John Snelling.

Rehearsals ahead of the opera Silver Birch at Garsington Opera, Wormsley. Picture by John Snelling.

Among the instrumentalists taking part in the performances are members of Aylesbury Youth Orchestra, who are joined by members of Chiltern Music Academy, High Wycombe Music Centre and the National Children’s Orchestra.

The opera has been composed by Roxanna Panufnik who leads an all-female creative team.

The professional singing roles will be played by Sam Furness, Victoria Simmonds, Darren Jeffery, Bradley Travis, Sarah Redgwick and James Way.

Silver Birch will be performed on the main stage of Garsington Opera at Wormsley from Friday 28 to Sunday 30 July at 7.30pm each evening.

Tickets are available from £10 and can be bought online at www.garsingtonopera.org or from the Box Office on 01865 361636.

Rehearsals ahead of Silver Birch in Wormsley - pictured are some of the schoolchildren who are taking part. Photo: John Snelling.

Rehearsals ahead of Silver Birch in Wormsley - pictured are some of the schoolchildren who are taking part. Photo: John Snelling.