Sir Karl Jenkins is the world’s most performed contemporary choral composer (say that nine times fast!) He wrote Cantata Memoria to commemorate the Aberfan mining disaster in Wales, but the team behind a new PledgeMe campaign want to put on a performance here in NZ, in memory of our own mining disaster at Pike River. With your help, the Wellington Youth Orchestra can bring this concert to Wellington in October of this year.
To find out more about this amazing idea, we got in touch with one of the organisers, Wim Oosterhof:
Why do you think this campaign is important?
We are passionate about making this latest work from the world’s most performed contemporary composer – Sir Karl Jenkins – accessible to New Zealanders. The music is exquisite and also very accessible for people who may not be attracted to classical music. Understanding and appreciating this music is enhanced by the fact that it “tells a story” and is accompanied by visuals. We were able to secure the rights to show a video that tells the same story as the music and includes rarely seen archive material, licensed of the BBC Wales Archives.
A group of 30 New Zealand singers went to New York earlier in the year and sang in the USA Premiere of Cantata Memoria: For the Children of Aberfan at Carnegie Hall. They experienced singing and rehearsing with a world-renowned conductor, who is a personal friend and expert interpreter of Sir Karl Jenkins’ music – Dr Jonathan Griffith. When Dr Griffith offered to come to New Zealand to conduct the New Zealand Premiere, we realised that for the singers who could not be in New York, this would be a tremendous opportunity to gain the same experience at home. The PledgeMe campaign is set up to help us pay for travel and accommodation for this esteemed American conductor. If we reach more than the target, we will use a surplus to enhance the visual backdrop by using a bigger screen and more powerful projection equipment.
After starting to organise the concert, we realised that it was extremely important for two
communities in New Zealand to see this work performed: the Welsh Community, because the music commemorates a terrible mining disaster in Aberfan, Wales; and New Zealanders, for whom it is a reminder of the mining disaster at Pike River in 2010.
Both mining disasters were preventable and caused grief and anger in the respective communities. The singers, who went to New York in January, went there “with Pike River in their minds” and dedicated their performance to the families and friends of the Pike River victims.
Included in the programme on Labour Day this year is a performance of another of Sir Karl Jenkins’ compositions – Benedictus from The Armed Man – which will be dedicated to the Pike River families. The concert will bring the two communities together, when members of the Pike River community who attend the concert will be hosted by people from the Wellington Welsh Society.
What motivated you to reach out to your crowd?
To stage a production like this is expensive (even more so on a public holiday). We want to make sure this amazing concert is accessible to as many New Zealanders as possible, and so we have kept registration fees and ticket prices well below what would be required to cover the cost. Therefore, we considered fund-raising, because we want to reach out to a wider audience (initially via friends and family of participants) and regarded PledgeMe an excellent platform to involve a wider group.
What do you have planned for the rest of your campaign – anything for us to look forward to?
Our main goal, of course, is to allow as many people as possible to experience this music, and so our ongoing aim is to “Fill the Hall”. Therefore – via social media, word-of- mouth and other promotional activities – we want to let as many people as possible know that the concert is coming.
More information can be found here. To increase accessibility, a 20% discount on tickets prices is offered to early birds!
We are also focused on reaching out to the business community to give them the opportunity to advertise, and to be seen as culturally and socially responsible through their support for the concert. Businesses can either advertise in the concert programme or ‘adopt’ a conductor or one or more of the amazing line-up of soloists.
Anything you’d like to shout out to your crowd?
This event has drawn international attention: 20 singers from the Mornington Peninsula Chorale in Victoria, Australia, will come to Wellington and sing with us in the choir. This concert is very much focussed on Youth: the orchestra is the Wellington Youth Orchestra, and they will not only accompany the premiere of Cantata Memoria: For the Children of Aberfan, but also showcase their talent as an orchestra playing other pieces under their conductor Simon Brew. Among the performers in the premiere is an 80-strong youth choir (with singers from Wellington Young Voices, St. Mark’s school choir and singers from Nelson). And of course the music is – in the words of the composer – a celebration of
childhood. Although it expresses a story about a specific incident, it goes much further than that and brings a message of hope, going from darkness to light.
We hope that many people can experience that on Labour Day in the Michael Fowler Centre.