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May 2014

Hello Friends,

Arohanui Strings students will be performing at Chamber Music Hutt Valley's concert this Monday, May 26 at 7 in foyer of the Little Theater before the concert.


Should be a great concert featuring Beethoven, Debussy and Brahms with renowned musicians Diedre Irons, piano, Vesa-Matti Leppanen, violin and Andrew Joyce, cello.  Come out and support Arohanui Strings and hear some great music!

As part of our 2014 fundraising appeal, we made a submission for funding to Hutt City's Annual Plan.  We will be presenting at their up-coming community meeting on May 29th at 10:30am. 

To help us with this appeal, please consider calling your city councilor to express your support for our program, they appreciate hearing what is important to the city's residents!




April 2014

Hello Friends,

A quick update from Arohanui Strings-Sistema Hutt Valley:

We are preparing for our fifth holiday programme, running Tuesday through Friday next week at St. Michael's School.  We have a fantastic teaching team, including the Assistant Conductor of Orchestra Wellington, Chris Clark, the former principal cellist of the National Youth Orchestra Lucy Gijsbers, Loata Mahe of the Tironui Music Trust in Aukland, Lala Simpson of Community Music Junction, and a wonderful group of college student helpers including the budding Hutt Valley String Quartet!  We will have a special music appreciation performance by Ludwig Treviranus, demonstrations of the trumpet and flute, and we are hoping to have a set of plastic buckets and dowels donated by Bunnings Warehouse in time for a "Strike" style percussion project.

All of this would not be possible without the visionary support of Orchestra Wellington.  They are sponsoring two holiday programmes and an in-school teaching project in Taita this year, and without their generosity we would not be able to reach these children.  Many of our new young players from Pomare School, in one of the highest deprivation areas of Hutt City, have signed up for this course.  We are so proud and grateful to have this partnership.  We will have such total support that our sandwiches will be made by O.W. staff! (and parent volunteers).

Other support comes from Hutt City Council, the Nikau Foundation, and you, our loyal friends.  Our programme runs "on the smell of an oily rag" as they say here in NZ, and we deliver a consistent high quality music experience thanks to our donors.  But our present funding will end in July, and we need to find the resources to continue.  We are looking for help with a fund-raising campaign, to ensure that we can bring this programme to the children of Taita/Pomare in an ongoing way.  The Sistema commitment to social change through music is a minimum 10 year commitment. We need to be able to pay teachers to keep the programme alive.  If You can help, or know someone who can help, please go to our "Give a Little" page and donate.  All of your money goes directly to the teachers who make this work happen.



March 2014

Dear Friends,

We have had a very lively start to the year.  Below is a picture from our performance at the Dowse with the Circus Arts Trust, a show called The Fire Within.  It was great fun to collaborate with these circus artists, and with youth from the Secret Level in Lower Hutt.

Now we are preparing for Noye's Fludde on Saturday, March 8, 5:00 at the Te Rauparaha Arena, with NZ Opera!  Last Saturday 12 of us went to the Adam Concert Room at Victoria University to practice with the singers and Wellington Youth Sinfonietta.  What a great experience for the kids!  This will be an amazing production.  We hope to see many of you there.

After these two extravaganzas, we plan to settle down to the work of learning our instruments and practical music theory, so that we can play great music together.  Our next event is a Holiday Programme set for the second week of autumn school holidays, April 28 to May 1.  This programme is generously sponsored by Orchestra Wellington.  It will run from 9:00 to 2:00 daily.  Please let us know if you would like to come and observe or help out; visitors are welcome.

The big news is that thanks again to Orchestra Wellington, we have been able to start beginner violin programmes in the two local schools closest to our base at St. Michael's:  Pomare School, and Taita Central.  Two paid teachers, Anna Lezikovna and Alison Eldredge, and one volunteer, Stephanie McLean, are going twice a week for half an hour to each school, teaching an entire class of 6-7 year olds.  The children are so eager to learn and are learning very fast, thanks to the strength of our 3 person teaching team!  Since we already own the little violins, generously donated over the past three and a half years by countless kind souls, this programme is relatively low cost and already bringing gifts of energy and enthusiasm for music.

Our long term goal this year is to secure funding that will allow us to continue to serve the children of Taita/Pomare, Lower Hutt.  We have received generous support from many private donors, from the Hutt City Council, Nikau Foundation, and Orchestra Wellington.  But without a guaranteed regular income into the future, it will be impossible to hire the teachers we need, expand the orchestras to include new players, add wind brass and percussion to complete the youth orchestra, and provide the hours of practice that a true Sistema programme requires.  Our after-school programme currently serves 35 students from 7 area schools, 4 hours a week.  Sistema programmes world-wide are in rehearsal an average of 9-12 hours a week.  In order to take the next steps, we need funding to pay teachers, a part time administration person,  and add another day to the programme.

Our current funding will cover us through July, and we have plans for another concert with Orchestra Wellington in November but so far no guaranteed resources to continue our work.  Can you connect us with the people or organizations who could provide a stable base for Arohanui Strings- Sistema Hutt Valley to flourish?


November, 2013


Our concert with Orchestra Wellington was a great success!!   There were positive articles in the press, we received many compliments, and even a few donations!

They have invited us back for a concert next year, and preparations have already begun!

Good news:  we were invited to apply for a specific fund a few months ago, and have been granted $2000.00 by the nikau foundation towards next year's operating expenses!  the project i have in mind is to do in-school classes for year 2 students in the two closest schools, pomare and taita central.  because we already have the instruments, the cost is very reasonable: $12,000 would cover the teaching hours for the whole year for both schools.  so this is a good start!
Please let me know if you have ideas for raising the remaining sum.  with this grant in place, we can approach other organizations and ask them to match it!



October, 2013
Orchestra Wellington is again partnering with us for our upcoming Holiday Programme, Oct. 8 to 11.  We will again have the amazing teaching team of Loata Mahe from Tironui Trust, Chris Van der Zee of Orchestra Wellington and Kapiti Youth Orchestra, Jane Young of O.W. and Alison Eldredge director of A.S.  Volunteers from the NZSO and O.W. are welcome to come for a visit, and U. Vic and local college music students will also be volunteering.


September, 2013

This has been a busy term in Taita!  We have had lots of concerts in different venues, including our first concert right here in our neighborhood, at Taita Community Hall at the end of last term.  Doing the same program at St. Mark's Church lunchtime concert series seemed like a great idea, until we realized that almost all the experienced players would be away on a school trip!  Luckily the St. Michaels beginner violin class stepped up to save the day.  As we walked back to the bus, 15 6- year- olds carrying their small violins proudly through the streets of Lower Hutt was a highlight of the year!!  "That was the best concert ever!" shouted little Famalie, of his first ever concert experience!  In all of our recent concerts we have been incredibly well supported by our team of volunteers: Rebecca, Vida, Rose taking time off school to be with us, and Marion, Stephanie, David T, David M, May, Anna all making time to be with the children for these special events.  St. Michael's School principal Linda Birch and teachers have also been generous with their time.


August, 2013

The "pioneer members" were honored for bringing violins to Taita!  We have 50 in our after school programme now, and three years of experience to build upon.  We had a laugh about the squeaky sounds coming from the room 3 years ago when we started with 20 6 year olds and a set of violins borrowed from the late Ian Rolston!  After a big cake was shared we continued practicing!

For two weeks we have three year 10 students from Raphael House Rudolf Steiner School doing community service with us.  Saskia, Milena and Timothy jumped right in and enjoyed helping our musicians.  Next week we will have a visit from Fiona Douglas, director of Sistema Whangarei.  She is part of a network of Sistema programmes around the country, and it will be exciting to share ideas with her. Of course a trip up to Whangarei to do a shared concert would be a great thing to work towards!

We then had our big trip to Wellington, on a bus generously paid for by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, to play at Parliament.  The children turned out in full, with many proud parents as well.  47 children played together for an audience of ministers, Friends, and well wishers.  The Hon. Hekia Parata hosted, and began her remarks by saying how soothing to the soul it was to hear Vivaldi at Parliament in the middle of the day, and how she wished it could happen regularly!  The national anthem, Te Aroha and Beethoven's Ode to Joy were some of the favorites, and our friends Joe Harrop and Ros Giffney of Sistema Aotearoa were there to celebrate our third birthday with us!


July, 2013

We were honored to share a program with the Hutt Valley Community Choir, led by Julian Raphael.  We didn't know what to expect, and the joyful, happy group of 60 singers made us feel so welcome.  This concert was a great collaboration of world music for voices and strings.  The new hall at Sacred Heart College is a wonderful venue for big events and we hope to continue this partnership.  The parents enjoyed the performance so much that some of them have joined the choir!  Look for Ruta and Mahelino, Saqusto's parents, next time you hear the HVCC!

In July we played our first ever concert here in our neighborhood.  It was so exciting to see friends and neighbors come together to celebrate the music happening right here.  Claudia Tarrant-Matthews opened with Winter from Vivaldi's Four Seasons, then our orchestra played a set including Happy Birthday, Beethoven's Ode to Joy and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.  Local rockers Aaron Tokona and Friends played some beautiful Pacific soul at the end of the concert.  Free kai was provided by Kaibosh of Wellington.