Opera singer to raise money for pupils

Opera singer to raise money for pupils

23 November 2011 - by CIARA COLHOUN

A SUCCESSFUL Scottish opera singer is preparing a concert in Killyleagh next month to raise funds for music workshops for local primary school children.

Debra Stuart enjoyed a career as an international opera soloist before moving from her native Scotland to Northern Ireland a decade ago to marry a local man.

A versatile singer, Debra, who is known locally as Debra Pollen, is a regular soloist with the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra as well as being a member of The Celtic Divas.

She took full advantage of the opportunities given to her in her native Scotland, studying music to a high standard at school before going to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow when she was just 17.

After winning a host of international prizes she went to work for Scottish Opera before moving to London to continue her studies at the Guildhall and then the National Opera Studio.

She then worked as a soloist with all of the major opera companies, including the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, English National Opera and Opera North, before developing a major solo career in Europe and in the Middle East and the Far East.

“When I was growing up, we were able to have high quality music tuition in school, free of charge,” she says.

“It meant that any child who showed some musical ability was able to experience music, get lessons, and find out if they wanted to pursue it further.

“Sadly, the current economic climate means that anyone who wants to get involved in music has to pay for it, and that means many people will simply miss out on the opportunity — that is such a pity and a waste.”

It’s for this reason that Debra has decided is to give the concert in Killyleagh next month to raise funds to pay for music workshops for Cedar Integrated Primary School, Killyleagh Primary School and St. Mary’s Primary School.

She hopes the concert will give local children the opportunity to experience high quality music tuition.

“When I consider how fortunate we were as children, I am determined to try to ensure that local children today have similar opportunities,” she says.

“The first thing is to get some general music experience, so this concert is raising money to fund music workshops for three local primary schools.

“This should allow youngsters to get their first experience of some formal music and may lay the foundations for a greater programme of tuition in the future.”

The concert will be held on Sunday, December 11, at 3pm, at St. John’s Church in Killyleagh.

Debra will be joined by the other members of The Celtic Divas along with a number of other friends and colleagues who share her passion for inspiring the next generation about music. 

They will donate their services for the concert.

The audience will be treated to a full range of music, from opera, musicals, Scottish and Irish and with more than a flavour of Christmas seasoning.

Tickets are £10 and are available from Picnic and the Post Office in Killyleagh, and from each of the three primary schools.