ENO Porgy and Bess Youth Project

In October half term 2018, 36 young people aged 13-18 came together from across London to take part in the ENO Baylis youth programme. Over four intensive days, the group created their own original piece London Rise inspired by the music and themes of The Gershwins’ opera Porgy and Bess.

As vocal director, Suzi joined director Caroline Williams, composer Pete Letanka, and a team of professional artists. The young people devised their own text, music and staging. ENO chorister Robert Winslade Anderson and singer/cellist Ayanna Witter Johnson joined the project to rehearse and perform alongside them, culminating with a sharing on the set of Porgy and Bess on the London Coliseum stage.

Later that day, the young people reprised a short extract of their piece for the audience attending the sold out evening performance of Porgy and Bess, for which they received a rapturous reception, before taking their seats in the auditorium to enjoy the opera with their families and friends. For many of these young people, this was the first time they had engaged with opera and worked alongside professional artists.