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Musicians band together to end child poverty

Musicians are banding together to raise funds towards ending child poverty in New Zealand, with a series of collaborative performances in Auckland, the first this year being held on June 11.

Following the success of the inaugural event last year, organisers were so astounded by the support from audiences, that they decided to make it more than just a one-off. Support from the musical talent has also bloomed, with significant contributions not only from enthusiastic lay musicians but also professional musicians who have dedicated time and effort to produce an even more exciting line-up of items. The End Child Poverty Fundraiser Concert on June 11 will feature solo performances from special guest, Concertmaster Andrew Beer from the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. Andrew is a musician renowned for his humanitarian work.

It will be a rare opportunity to hear Chinese folk music in a variety concert, as professional musicians playing traditional instruments have been inspired to join the cause. Eleven accomplished children will also perform as part of the Manukau Youth Jazz Orchestra, under the skilful guidance of musical director Joseph Allan. A number of Western classical instruments will be heard in small arrangements, featuring music students from the University of Auckland. All acts will come together for the concert finalé to demonstrate a united vision of creating sustainable living conditions for healthy and happy children in New Zealand.

Brigitte Sistig, the key organiser for the event, says it’s all about unity. When she first approached some of her peers with the idea to play for a fundraiser event she was amazed at the response. "There were no questions, everyone agreed it was a good idea," she says. The more word spread, the more talent was offered.

What started with a group of friends who have musical talent in common and initially intended to be an event for friends and family, was soon realised to have much greater potential.

"We have a small studio space that we thought we could perform in, but we realised we were going to grow bigger, and someone suggested the Ponsonby Baptist Church would be an ideal venue," said Brigitte. Indeed, the Ponsonby Baptist Congregational Committee have wholeheartedly embraced the event, providing their generous ongoing support.

Supporting Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) was a unanimous decision as the conditions in New Zealand affecting children of low-income families resonated among the group; many of whom are health professionals and are acutely aware of the effects of poverty on children and their families. "You hear about child poverty in the news every day. I wanted to do something to help and so did everyone else," says Brigitte.

When the idea was presented about raising funds towards ending child poverty in New Zealand the musicians and local sponsors all reacted immediately with a harmonious "Yes!"

"This is such a generous initiative. It raises awareness about the hardships of some children in Aotearoa-New Zealand, but also lifts spirits and provides motivation to end child poverty. We are deeply grateful to Brigitte and the musicians involved," says CPAG spokesperson Janfrie Wakim.

Tickets to this event, which include free light refreshments, can be purchased in advance. Visit www.cpag.org.nz for more information. Limited door sales will be offered.