Making connections with children and local communities is one of our highest priorities. As part of this year’s Russian Icons national tour we presented a number of workshops, masterclasses and children’s concerts, including a workshop for Sistema Whangarei - Toi Akorangi with primary school-aged children, thanks to the support of Foundation North.
We presented a short selection of pieces exploring feelings and emotions in music and then broke into groups so that each of us could work with the young players on their particular instruments. Since none of the children at the Whangarei workshop were learning viola, Gillian showed off her versatility by taking an elementary cello class!
Imagine our delight when a fat envelope of drawings and thank you notes arrived from the children by mail. Teacher, Samantha Winterton wrote:
“Thank you for the amazing gift you gave to our children and community. We have had fabulous feedback from the children and families. One of our younger children now definitely wants to play in an orchestra (as well as being a train driver). We start our holiday programme tomorrow and I know I will use the experience of your energetic performance to springboard into a new level of engagement with their instrument and the orchestra. Please, please come again.”
We also worked with Sistema in South Auckland, as well as with around 120 children on the Tironui Music programme at Papatoetoe Intermediate School. Tironui Music Trust was set up by NZSQ board member Peter Hubscher and his wife Pam to offer music tuition to children in low decile areas. We were delighted when, at the end of our performance for them, they reciprocated by having their intermediate orchestra play for us.
This tour also gave us the opportunity to perform Scary Music, the new work we had commissioned from Gareth Farr and Joy Cowley. The piece went down very well with our young audiences and a definite highlight was performing it at Corinna School, in a low-decile area of Porirua. The children were thrilled that Joy Cowley was able to come and, at the end, they showered us all in hugs and presented us with leis made out of Minties and Fruit Bursts! We also enjoyed performing at Prebbleton School just south of Christchurch, thanks to the generous support of Meadow Mushrooms.