Music for Social Change

29 June 2018 / News

Reaching out to the next generation of string players is something we are passionate about, and we feel privileged that over the past two months we have been able to encourage and inspire nearly 300 young string players from low income backgrounds. In August and September we’ll continue our outreach work in South Auckland and look forward to working with the inspirational Virtuoso Strings of Porirua as well.

“From the moment a child is taught to play an instrument, she is no longer poor” José Antonio Abreu, El Sistema founder

Three of the programmes we work with annually - Arohanui Strings (Taita, Lower Hutt), Sistema Aotearoa (Otara, South Auckland) and Sistema Whangarei - are based on the visionary El Sistema movement, founded in Venezuela by conductor José Antonio Abreu under the motto “Music for Social Change”. Abreu, who died in March this year, aimed to provide free classical music education “that promotes human opportunity and development for impoverished children”.

Our work with these programmes takes many different forms, from working in small groups on basics such as how to hold a bow, through to performing for and with the children. In Whangarei in May we spent the best part of a day with their 40 young players, giving small group workshops, coaching their orchestra and ultimately performing for and with them to a large hall of parents and local community members. Sistema Whangarei director Samantha Winterton wrote afterwards to say:

“What a fabulous experience. The concert was inspirational not only because of the performance by the NZSQ but because the players moved so smoothly into our setting. Our children have even more aspiration to play well, our community is still buzzing, and I am continually inspired.” 

Rolf with 4 kids

 The Tironui Music Trust is an independent school-based programme established by former NZSQ board member Peter Hubscher and his wife Pam to promote formal education in music, with particular emphasis on young children from low-decile schools. All children receive free tuition, books and transport to and from related activities, and by the time they finish Intermediate they will have received 4 - 5 years of tuition in their chosen instrument. Since 2006 the programme has expanded from one class of 25 children and now offers the programme to 500 children in nine schools in the Papatoetoe-Penrose area. Each time we work with the Tironui programme we go to a different school so that we can ‘share the love’ as widely as possible!

And we’re very much looking forward to working with the Virtuoso Strings programme in September this year. The programme was founded by violinist Elizabeth Sneyd and her composer-violist husband Craig Utting, and caters to over 200 students from Porirua East, with music classes run out of 10 partnering decile 1 & 2 schools during the school day, holiday courses and a community orchestra based in Cannons Creek Porirua. Their students achieve impressive results in local music competitions and Trinity College exams and their performance earlier this year with Sol3 Mio and Orchestra Wellington was evidence of the high standards the programme has achieved.

All of these string programmes are founded on the belief that music has the power to change lives. We firmly believe that to be the case and feel privileged to contribute in some small way to their vital, valuable work.

NZSQ w Sistema 1 Cropped


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