Simon’s singing Paisley’s praises Opera boss loves living here
A singer who fell in love with Paisley and its people has set up an opera company in the town.
Simon Hannigan, who hails from Trowbridge in Wiltshire, founded Paisley Opera at the beginning of this year and is looking forward to the company’s first fully staged show, which will take place at Paisley Abbey in December.
Mr Hannigan, who studied at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and is a member of the chorus of Scottish Opera, said: “We moved to Paisley seven years ago and we just really loved it from the moment we got here.
“It’s the people basically. I love the town, it has great architecture, but we just immediately found it a really friendly place.
“My wife and I both said to ourselves after the first few weeks how friendly people were in the shops.
“And that’s one great thing about starting the company as well, that belief has been reinforced, if anything, because we’ve got a really good corps of enthusiastic and committed volunteers.
“And they’re really nice people as well, it’s a great place to be.”
Mr Hannigan had mulled over the idea of setting up an opera company for a numbers of years.
“I thought about it for a long time and I’d always been interested in the idea of really getting people involved who may have never seen opera before,” he said.
“Because when you say ‘opera’ most people think it’s not for them.
“They’ve usually got all sorts of preconceptions about it.
“You ask them if they’ve ever been to an opera or seen an opera, it’s usually no.
“So one of the things about Paisley Opera was just to get it out there and give people the chance to see what it is and then they can make their own judgements.
“We certainly see Paisley Opera as an ongoing group and we hope it will grow and grow.”
Word was spread through social media about the company.
“And I got a lot of my colleagues from Scottish Opera – professional singers – who came along and helped get things started when they came along to rehearsals,” Mr Hannigan said.
“At the first rehearsal at Wallneuk North Church we had no idea if anyone would turn up or not but to my delight lots of people did.”
There is no need to have a background in music to take part in Paisley Opera, Mr Hannigan added.
“That’s one of the big things about it, anyone can come,” he said.
“Like most professional singers I think that, given the right help, really anybody can sing.
“I’ve come across so many people who have been told at school ‘you can’t sing, stand at the back’, and they’ve believed that ever since.
“I think singing is an incredibly vital, energising thing to do.”
Mr Hannigan added: “For the company to succeed it has to rely on local volunteers who will sing in the chorus and hopefully bring people along to performances.”
Since being founded, Paisley Opera has held a numbers of pop-up events in the town and is now getting ready to stage a show about the Paisley Witch Trials that will feature music mostly from the operas of Verdi.
“Our first pop-up event was at UWS and we did one in the Piazza,” Simon said.
“And a few weeks later we did another pop-up in Morrisons.”
The show at Paisley Abbey will be a great way to hear some of the best tunes in opera.
“We’ve chosen a well known local story and we will be telling it with operatic excerpts.”
Paisley Opera is now recruiting for this event, which will take place on December 8 and 9.
If you would like to get involved call Simon Hannigan on 07702 424528 or email email@example.com or visit www.paisleyopera.org
Welcome Simon Hannigan