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New trust shines spotlight on emerging talent

Sophia Liu, 7, performed at a Clevedon Valley Music Foundation concert.
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Providing the opportunity for emerging musicians and singers to perform for local audiences is one of the main aims of a new trust in the rural Auckland suburb of Clevedon.

The trust’s first project was a new concert series called Sunday Serenades. The venue was St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, in Clevedon, featuring top professional artists and emerging musicians from around the Auckland region. There were capacity audiences at the four concerts.

In the final concert for the year, titled “Young People Today,” one of those musicians included an 11-year-old cellist who made his international debut at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

Formed to bind us all together 

The Clevedon Valley Music Foundation Trust was formed a year ago.

With the logo “Music that Binds Us All Together” the trust aims to build up musicians and singers, encouraging them to give back and to bring pleasure to audiences.

Its values include inspiration, keeping the arts alive, personal responsibility, giving back and love for people and music.

The focus is on musical theatre shows and classical music.

A local woman’s vision

The trust is the vision of founder Gina Sanders, a Clevedon-raised girl who became an international opera singer and teaches voice and music privately and works with several groups including many choirs throughout the Auckland region. She also teaches voice at Waikato University and King’s College.

Among the young musicians who have performed at trust events are Ethan Chiao, Harrison Chau and Crissy Sanders, all with impressive achievements to their names.

Ethan Chiao, 11, has been playing cello for just over three years and made his international debut in New York.

Ethan Chiao

Two years ago he won the second prize at the Grand Prize Virtuoso International Music Competition in Vienna. He was placed as the winner (young musicians category) of the American Protégé International Competition and was invited to the finalist performance at Carnegie Hall in New York. He made his international debut in New York.

Harrison Chau, 18, is in the final stages of his last year of school. Harrison has achieved his ABRSM grade 8 for cello, grade 6 piano and grade 4 harp and is looking forward to studying a Bachelor of Music next year. Harrison has participated in the 2017 SAPACS competition and the 2017 IRMTNZ scholarship competition. More recently he played in the cello section of the Auckland Youth Orchestra.

Crissy Sanders

Crissy Sanders, 15, started learning the clarinet when she was eight through a school music programme when she was living in Britain. She has also played the cello and now plays the saxophone as well. Crissy is the lead clarinet in both her school concert band and senior orchestra.

Some of the other performers included South Aucklanders Daniel Xian, already an impressive pianist for his 11 years who recently achieved one of the highest marks in Grade 5 ABRSM piano in the country, and Tiari Kaka (13), another talented young pianist.

Oliver Vannoort (15) is also from South Auckland and is an excellent young baritone working at an advanced level and a significant anchor in several choirs.

Volunteering part of life

Gina grew up in a family where volunteering was just part of life.

You do get tremendous pleasure from helping another person,” she says.

Gina felt she was at the top of her profession but recalled the time she was a young singer. She knew how important it is for young singers and musicians to have performance opportunities.

As Patron of the South Auckland Performing Arts Competitions Society she fully supports the opportunities provided through the festivals, and sees the concert experiences as an extension to the competitions.

Gina also wanted to give local residents more opportunities to attend quality performances without the challenge of travelling into central Auckland.

Community-minded trustees

She invited her own selection of people to join her as board members of the new trust. There is a mix of old and young but all have a great love of music and are community-minded.

Helen Jarrett, also from Clevedon is the youth trustee on the trust. Gina has been her classical voice teacher and mentor for 10 years. Helen says Gina has provided her opportunities to sing “the most amazing repertoire, performed with incredible choirs in the Auckland Town Hall, developed a life-long skill that I am proud to say I am good at, developed a discipline and love of the arts that really only she could have instilled in me”.

Helen’s studying commerce rather than music at university and jumped at the chance to be involved in the trust, helping give performance opportunities to talented people from South Auckland and beyond.

Gina is also supported by members of her family.

Because the trust is about sharing the gift of music, entry to the Sunday Serenade concerts is by donation.

In September the trust presented MUSIC in the NEWS (NEWS = North East West South), a celebration of music by contemporary composers Vladimir Romanov and Chris Artley at St Benedict’s Church in Newton, Auckland. It featured a 30-piece professional orchestra and 45-voice choir of teens to experienced adults.

It was the first Southern Hemisphere performance of Romanov’s Stabat Mater.

Christmas Carol Service

On Sunday, December 16, the trust will present a Carol Service at St Andrew’s featuring an “all-comers” choir of 40 to 60 and a small orchestral ensemble.

Gina’s found many people don’t have time to commit to being in a choir all year round, but can do so for a specific event such as the carol service.

Changing lives?

So how is the trust changing lives?

Gina is inspired by seeing people have dreams and goals.

She has watched performers, especially younger ones, bring a sense of hope, peace and positivity to those in the audience.

She’s also noticed the concerts prompt some in the audience to take up their musical instruments again.

It’s about,

the ability for us to appreciate the capacity of the human spirit,” she says.

Then there are the changed lives of the performers, often because getting involved in music keeps them out of trouble.

Gina has also found many adults saying music is something to call their own and give them confidence.

And being involved in a musical community is a powerful way of dealing with stress, she says.

The programme for next year’s Sunday Serenades is being compiled with the dates confirmed as March 17 – Scenes of Green (St Patrick’s Day).

May 12 – Blossoms of the Heart (Mother’s Day).

July 14 – Vive l’amour! (Bastille Day).

Sept 15 – Adventures and Beginnings.

The plan is to do a large fundraising concert each year plus several smaller events.

The main concert would raise funds for the trust which also intends to grant awards and scholarships to emerging artists in the south-east Auckland area.

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For more information:

Clevedon Valley Music Foundation Trust website click here 

Facebook page click here 

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