VEHICLES: can opera inspire creativity and innovative thinking in young people?


human transport


Primary Investigator:

Professor Martyn Harry
Composer; Artistic Director, JdP Concert Series
Professor of Composition, Faculty of Music, Oxford University
Tutorial Fellow in Music, St Anne's College, Oxford
Lecturer in Music, St Hilda's College, Oxford


Partner Organisations:





Director - Rhian Hutchings

Conductor - Olivia Grant

Captain Houston - Luci Briginshaw

Lieutenant Schmidt - Peter Martin

Engineer One - Simon Wallfisch

Engineer Two - Charmian Bedford

Producer - Laura Drane

Designer - Bethany Seddon

Lighting Designer - Chris Illingworth

Signer - Hester Bond

Stage Manager - To be confirmed

Sound Technician - To be confirmed

Film maker - To be confirmed


About the project:


My opera for children, "Vehicles", has been produced successfully by Operasonic at the Riverfront Theatre, Newport, on March 2nd 2020 with funding from the John Fell Foundation for the production and HCP for the creative workshops exploring the opera’s theme of innovations in transport technology. 393 children attended the school’s performance, many of them having participated in the first of two creative workshops. The opera was due to be toured to other venues such as Didcot and Ellesmere Port in March, but these residencies have had to be postponed due to COVID-19. The present uncertainty about the reopening of theatres and the viability of performances involving singing has encouraged us to draw up an alternative plan for concluding the project and widening the range of potential audiences for VEHICLES. We are therefore filming the project in Newport on the week of November 16th 2020, so that VEHICLES can be released on-line as a series of six video episodes. Three videos for children exploring the engineering content associated with the opera have already been made, enabling the VEHICLES project (consisting of a school visit, an on-line filmed performance and the three videos) to be marketed to schools. We hope this will enable the opera to reach, in a deep, meaningful and informed way, a community of young people rarely addressed by academic research, as well as to investigate to what extent “Vehicles” can inspire young people to think differently about scientific careers such as engineering. 


thumbnail vehicles at operasonic photo by mark douet 650a4559


thumbnail vehicles at operasonic photo by mark douet i80a2353


Part of the Humanities Cultural Programme, one of the founding stones for the

future Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities.