Si­mon’s singing Pais­ley’s praises Opera boss loves liv­ing here

Paisley Daily Express - - News - Ken­neth Speirs

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 pais­ley­ or visit www.pais­ley­

Wel­come Si­mon Han­ni­gan

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