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Balraj Samrai, Satnam Galsian awarded Opera North Resonance residencies

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Opera North has announced the five artists chosen to take part in its Resonance Residencies programme, including two Asian artists.

Working in genres from folk, jazz, and soul to electronic club and improvisation, and rooted in traditional music from across Africa and Asia, Balraj Samrai, Satnam Galsian, Rory A Green, Jonas Jones, and Ellen Beth Abdi have been announced as the latest artists to be awarded an Opera North Resonance residency starting later this month.

Resonance offers time, space, and resources to professional music-makers from the Global Majority, working in any genre and based in the north of England.

It seeks to develop talent by enabling them to take their work in new directions, to experiment with collaborators and fresh ideas, and to try out the results in front of audiences.

Each artist spends a week in Leeds, with the sole remit of exploring a project of their choice in workshops and work-in-progress performances. Resonance is a PRS Foundation Talent Development Partner supported by PPL.

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Marking its seventh year in 2024, the scheme already boasts an impressive legacy: several alumni, including Testament and Hannabiell Sanders, have gone on to secure major commissions, sitarist Jasdeep Singh Degun is Opera North’s current Artist in Residence following his work as composer, co-music director and soloist on the acclaimed cross-cultural opera Orpheus, while Abel Selaocoe, a 2020 Resonance recipient, composed the popular Leeds As You Are soundwalk as part of LEEDS 2023 Year of Culture.

This year’s lead artists are set to use their musical talents to explore issues such as social justice, race, identity, gender, migration, and how the past continues to impact the present.

Balraj Samrai is a musician, DJ, facilitator, and co-founder of Swing Ting and SEEN Magazine. Balraj originally worked with Opera North as part of the Resonance Lockdown Edition in 2020 combining South Asian sounds with electronic sonics. In June last year, he released his debut album reflecting on the experience of first-generation Punjabis in the UK who were denied the chance to travel until their senior years. Balraj is keen to explore these themes further during his residency as he turns the spotlight on the complexity of migrant experiences. Collaborating largely with other artists from Global Majority backgrounds, he hopes to adapt his project for live ensemble settings and compose new works featuring live and electronic sounds.

A British Asian folk singer based in Leeds, Satnam Galsian is interested in the interplay between the North Indian and Western music traditions. Satnam will be using her Resonance residency to challenge preconceived notions about women’s roles in Punjabi folklore through a feminist retelling of Mirza-Sahiban, a tragic love story from the Indian subcontinent. By reimagining the tale through song, she is looking to challenge assumptions and cultural expectations around women’s roles in South Asian culture.

From January to April, each of these artists will be given free rehearsal space for a week in Leeds with a grant to cover fees and costs, and support and advice from technicians, producers, and other specialists. They will also be given the option to give a work-in-progress performance at the end of their residency.

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