Posts Tagged ‘City Hearts’

Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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October 22nd 2013
Amy Webber’s thoughts on the Romanian premiere of Anya17

Performing Anya 17 in a country where more women and children are trafficked for sex slavery than any other Eastern European country was extremely poignant.

For me, it brought an even deeper level of emotional engagement and the back story of my character became even more detailed. Seeing all the delegates from the Anti Human Trafficking conference and members of numerous trafficking charities in the audience also made the story become deeper. Everyone in that Philharmonic Hall was fighting against the same thing – human trafficking and slavery. This made the whole experience very powerful and the opera more relevant than ever before.

I always cry at the end of my aria in Anya 17 and also at the end of the opera, and this time, I cried even more. When the audience gave a standing ovation and the whole cast, crew and orchestra were taking bows on stage, the applause was saying more than just “what a great performance” but also “let us all continue the fight”. What more thrill could you want as a performer than being involved in something that is an art AND a campaign for change?

Of course, teaming up with a Romanian conductor, orchestra and half a Romanian cast also made the experience more interesting. Their rehearsal techniques and structure is different. And their way of approaching and learning contemporary music is also very different. They were all extremely friendly and really welcomed us to their country and culture.

Overall, it was a fantastic experience for all involved and we really hope we can continue to perform it all over the UK and the world.

Amy Webber plays the part of Elena

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Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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October 14th 2013
Three Days to Anya17 in Romania…

Timisoara

Timisoara

With just three days to go now before the Romanian premiere of Anya17 in Timisoara on the eve of Anti-Slavery Day, I am delighted to hear that rehearsals are going very well and that the Director (Caroline Clegg), the Cast and Musicians are all in good spirits.

Whilst I would very much like to be with the Composer Adam Gorb and with you all in Romania, there is much here left to be done, evidenced by this new Guardian report on Human Trafficking going on under our very noses in the UK today.

Good luck (Toi Toi Toi) to all the Anya17 Team in Romania!

 

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Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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November 4th 2011
Anya17 Auditions: It’s tough being an X Factor judge

Hopeful auditionee for the role of Natalia

Being an X Factor judge isn’t as easy as it seems! The harsh reality of picking and choosing between talented performers became all too clear as I sat, somewhat the judging novice, on the panel at Monday night’s Anya17 auditions at the RNCM in Manchester. Whilst neither spray tans nor capped teeth were in evidence amongst the august panel, the many talented performers gave it their all for nearly four hours under the unforgiving gaze of the camera and the expert judges.

Completing the panel and amply compensating for my complete lack of judging experience were Anya17’s Composer Adam Gorb, Clark Rundell and Stephan Janski.

Stephan’s friendly and encouraging style belied his extensive experience and much-praised work with Glyndebourne Festival and Touring Opera, ENO, Scottish Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Ryedale Festival and many others. Now Head of RNCM Opera (and a fantastic Librettist to boot), Stephan inspired some wonderful performances on the night.

Surely winning the prize for the longest title however, Clark Rundell, (Director of Contemporary Music and Head of Conducting at the RNCM, and Artistic Director of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic’s new music group, Ensemble 10/10), was as knowledgeable as he was incisive. A good thing too, as attempting to choose between the many extraordinary and well-prepared performances would have left me at a complete loss!

It's tough being a X Factor judge - Ben Kaye - Stephan Janski - Adam Gorb - Clark Rundell

Decisions had to be made however, and we will announce the cast line-up very shortly! (So make sure you’re checking back here and on our Facebook page and Twitter feed for all the latest developments.)

Monday also marked the start of filming for the Anya17 Documentary. James from Shilton Photo Film was kept busy for most of the day nimbly chasing light, angles and a variety of interviewees across the vast, labyrinthine landscape of the RNCM whilst burdened with a mountain of gear that would have soon had me screaming for the nearest Sherpa! Thank you also to Tina and Lara from City Hearts for taking part and also to Hope for Justice for finding the time to be with us.

That’s about all for now. In my next blog I will be introducing the talented singers who will become the cast of Anya17, and, if there’s space, I also hope to share my experiences at Unchosen’s latest screening at the LSE in London…

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Author: Hayley Chappell - Online Marketer
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October 18th 2011
Anti-Slavery Day: Writing for Justice

It’s all go in the Anya17 camp this week (Today is Anti-Slavery Day, we’re nominated for our first ever award from the Human Trafficking Foundation, Ben’s off to Number 10 and our brilliant T-Shirts have just launched). As the brand new online media manager, there’s nothing quite like being thrown in at the deep end!

I’m Hayley and barely two weeks ago I picked up the phone and spoke to Anna for the first time about the possibility of volunteering for Anya17 as their online media manager. A few days later and I found myself on the end of a phone to Ben, discussing ideas for this blog and our Twitter feed – and I hadn’t even agreed to volunteer at that point!

A country-loving southern living up in the industrial north of England, I found out about Anya17 through Sheffield based charity City Hearts, who work with victims of human trafficking to rehabilitate them and, where possible, reunite them with their families in their home countries. Through City Hearts, I’ve met women who have been trafficked to the UK to work in the sex industry. The thing that struck me most about them was this; they could be anyone. They could be me. They could be you. They have mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, friends and boyfriends. They are girls who, at one time or another, found themselves in what ended up being the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people. (At this point I feel I should interject that both men and women can be victims of trafficking – the statistics are quite shocking – but the focus of Anya17 is that of the stories of the women trafficked for sex).

Speaking to Ben over the phone I could tell he was hugely passionate about giving these faceless, voiceless young women a platform to make their voice and their stories heard. What comes across – and I’m sure it’s more obvious in person – is his belief that even doing something, no matter how small, can make a difference.  And that’s ultimately why I agreed to be Anya17’s online media manager. Using my ability to blog, my unhealthy addiction to social media, and my journalist head to help raise a voice for these people and in some way, make a difference.

Over the next few months I hope we’ll build a large online following both interested in the opera and in raising awareness and fighting against this incredible injustice. I’m excited to see a more “traditional” art form, the opera, catapult a serious modern-day world issue into the public psyche and to the fore of the political arena.

Anya17, in my mind, is a story with many sides, told by many people. And this blog is where you’ll see them unfold.

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Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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October 13th 2011
United Nations

Ben Kaye from Anya17 meets Aranka and Syria from The United Nations (UN-GIFT) in London Oct 2011

It was wonderful to finally meet Siria and Aranka from UN.GIFT, with whom I had been liaising for so long before we had an informal get together this week in London. It was particularly poignant also to meet at the BFI Southbank, where the Composer Adam Gorb and I had so many meetings thrashing out the Opera.

Siria and Aranka had just flown over from Vienna on a very busy schedule indeed and were due to fly across the globe the next day, so it was great to catch up. UN.GIFT are about to launch (amongst many other things) a new Human Trafficking leaflet and would very much appreciate feedback from UK NGOs before publication, so if you don’t have their contact details then please do get in touch asap.

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Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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October 6th 2011
Invitation to No. 10 Downing Street

With the various musical collaborations I have been involved with over the past few years, some moments really stick in my mind. Hearing my words set to music for the very first time was a big one. JAM made it all come true for me at Southwark Cathedral with Paul Patterson’s ‘The Fifth Continent’ and I will never forget that first opportunity, nor that evening. JAM has a superb run of concerts touring Scotland this month by the way, so do visit http://www.jamconcert.org to find out more.

I have to admit (with a great sense of shame) that other highlights include the first BBC broadcasts and even being asked for my autograph for the first time. Very vain I know – but not easily forgotten – nor ever repeated! Better by far were the hugs I received from bereaved families at the ‘Eternal Voices’ concert last year for the fallen in Afghanistan, and hearing ‘Thoughts Scribbled on a Blank Wall’ at Westminster (again through JAM) was a pretty humbling experience.

Official praise is great too; perhaps the curse of writers everywhere. Two days ago an envelope landed on my doormat. It was an invitation to meet the Prime Minister at No. 10 Downing Street later this month in recognition of all that Adam Gorb, myself and the volunteers have done to bring this project to fruition.

With a budget of £0.00 and having to search for loose change between the sofa cushions just to travel to meetings, do the research etc. I may even have to shave for this one…

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Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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October 2nd 2011
Anya17 Nominated for Award!

It was a huge surprise when I heard that ‘Anya17’ has already been nominated for an award!

Despite the fact that the premiere of Anya17 is not until March 7th next year, the Libretto for the Opera has been circulating amongst the Charity community in the UK and abroad, and the result seems to have been a nomination for a HTF Media award at The House of Lords in October!

Let’s not get too excited here, because not only is there ‘many a slip twixt cup and lip’ but also some technicality over dates may make us ineligible both for the Awards for this year, and unfortunately for 2012, but the nomination itself is a great emotional boost to all of us who have worked so hard and for so long on this project – some since 2009. Without Adam Gorb, the RNCM, The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Liverpool Hope University, Anna, Stu, Lauren, the UN, the supporting Charities, MPs, MEPs and the BBC, what we may have had here could have just have been a still-born dream.

Before I go into full ‘Awards Ceremony Mode’ therefore and start thanking my Agent (who doesn’t exist), my Mother (who definitely does) and my Deity (the Jury’s still out on that one), I would sincerely like to thank all of you for nurturing some nebulous genus of an idea and helped the project to get this far.

Surely the plaudits though must go to my hairdresser…

Well done everyone!

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Author: Ben Kaye - Librettist, Co-founder
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September 25th 2011
Second Documentary Confirmed

Directly inspired by the Anya17 project, a recent call from the BBC confirmed that they have decided to start filming a short Documentary on Human Trafficking in the UK.

Spearheaded by the much-respected Simon Clemison, the Documentary will form part of the BBC’s ‘Inside Out’ series, and although predominately focussing on the South West (where I’m based) it is hoped that the magnitude of the subject will ensure BBC broadcasts in many other regions.

I am absolutely delighted that Anya17 has stimulated this interest, and despite the fact that ‘Anya’ is unlikely to feature much in the film, Anya’s true purpose will be well served.

Many thanks to Simon and all at the Beeb for their continued support!

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