Thanks to the passion of Dr Elizabeth Sneyd QSM of Wellington, a 50 piece orchestra comprising children from the Porirua region is thriving and developing in our midst.
Speaking at Plimmerton Rotary on 24th May, Dr Sneyd explained her desire to encourage local children who may never have been exposed to classical music, to not only learn to play various instruments but to reach a standard where they were able to perform for discerning audiences. “We currently draw children from eleven local Decile 1 schools. From a handful of children just 3 years ago we now have over 100 participating children. Our goal is to create two outstanding children’s orchestras in this region.”
The basic philosophy of the orchestras’ future success was the pursuit of excellence. “Regardless of the background the child comes from, we believe strongly that in order to achieve our goal we must at all times encourage our musicians to strive to be the very best they can be. We want to provide several public concerts each year, not only to raise funds for our future development but also to enhance the quality of our performances.”
Central to the future success of the project was the creation of the Virtuoso Strings Orchestra Charitable Trust. “Already we have received many generous donations from various sources such as the Nikau Foundation, Zonta, Inner Wheel and Rotary. We have approached the music establishment in Wellington for support but their response has been underwhelming.”
One activity which Dr Sneyd was keen to develop in the future was to have the orchestra perform in other regions in New Zealand. Their recent South Island tour, financed from donations, was a huge success. “We performed in an amazing array of venues including two memorable concerts in Dunedin, one at Knox Church and the other at Larnach Castle on the Otago peninsula. The experience of performing in different places in front of different audiences was hugely beneficial for our young musicians.”
Dr Sneyd spoke of the camaraderie that had developed, not only among members of the orchestra but also their families, who were keen to see their children perform and to succeed. “Most of our musicians are aged 12, 13 and 14. Having the orchestra as their focus empowers them to stay out of trouble, unlike some of their peers. Many positive friendships have developed within the wider group.”
“When I was just starting out with this venture, someone said to me that what I was doing was just a drop in the ocean and would never make a meaningful difference. I replied with a quote from Mother Theresa: ‘That may be so, but without drops there would be no ocean.’ ”
The Virtuoso Strings Orchestra’s next performance is on Saturday 2nd July at Porirua College. Tickets are $15.00, and are obtainable from three outlets. You can find all the details here.