Building International Bridges
Previous overseas projects have taken us far and wide across Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Concordia Artists, Ambassadors, International Ensembles and Alumni have performed a variety of performances from gala concerts to charity balls to Festivals and Young Audiences projects. Venues have been equally varied with Concordia visiting Opera Houses, Theatres, High Commissions, Luxury Hotels, Conservatoires and Slums.
In addition to the high quality of music presented, a tremendous amount of educational and humanitarian work has been achieved. You can read more about these projects here.
Our current focus is the exciting Music for Life project taking place in the Korogocho slums in Kenya. This collaborative project provides after school music classes for the children of St John’s, as well as lessons and instruments for the young artists of the Kenya National Youth Orchestra as they develop their musical careers.
2013 Amazwi Omzansi Singing Competition, South Africa
Concordia Foundation has awarded travel bursaries in the past, the most recent of which was to provide a répétiteur for the National Singing Competition in South Africa. The competition was organised by Amazwi Omzansi Africa Performing Arts International Festival, in collaboration with Opera Les Azuriales International Festival, and improves the quality of the lives of young talented singers in South Africa, especially those from previously disadvantaged communities.
Concordia Ambassador, Njabulo Madlala, was the Artistic Director and asked for support to bring in a répétiteur to coach the twenty-seven young singers who made it through to the final stage of the competition; something they had never experienced before. Great strides were taken, true friendships were made and bridges were built through the music. All the participants went away in the knowledge that anything is possible no matter what your background or skin colour.
Njabulo Madlala’s Feedback:
Thank you so much to Concordia for your support to the project by helping get William Vann to South Africa. Although I have always known and understood how much help is needed by singers in South Africa, I had not prepared myself for what I saw and heard. Their stories really made me realise why we need projects like the one we set out, but also the work that Concordia is doing so we are now able to go out there and spread the message.
2012 Summer Serenade, Monte Carlo
Our wonderful Concordia Ambassadors presented a rich and varied programme in the glorious ballroom of the Hôtel Hermitage as part of the Guy Carpenter Summer Serenade in Monte Carlo. It was a very special night and, as one of our Ambassadors, Gareth McLearnon, reflected:
“What a difference a year makes. Only 12 months prior to Concordia International Ensemble’s performance in the Cote D’Azur, four members of the Ensemble had been playing to a group of seventy children in a windowless, tin-roofed hut in the heart of Nairobi’s Korogocho Slum. This perfectly illustrates the dichotomy of the Concordia Foundation’s international work. For September 2011 saw the Concordia International Ensemble present music and give humanitarian aid to orphans in Africa whilst September 2012 finds the ensemble performing at a Gala Dinner of Worldwide Heads of Business in the splendour of Monte Carlo. Once again we are indebted to Victoria Carter for inviting us to present our work in front of a large international audience.”
2011 Lord Mayor’s Tour to Kenya:
raeburn Theatre, Muthaiga Country Club and British High Commission, Nairobi
In September 2011 Concordia undertook its most ambitious overseas mission to date. The project not only included concert performances but also incorporated a Concordia Young Audiences project, with a busy schedule of workshops over the course of the nine-day visit.
The performances at the Braeburn Theatre and the British High Commission were given in honour of the (Kenyan born) Lord Mayor of the City of London and provided opportunities to collaborate with several local artists, including the Moipei Sisters. There were world premières of two commissioned works by Kenyan composer Njane Mugambi performed by the Concordia International Ensemble alongside the composer and Kenyan Litungu (West African Lyre) player Mukasa Wafula.
A key part of the project was the provision of LifeStraws – a portable water filter – for children who do not have access to clean drinking water. An initial pledge of 100 LifesStraws eventually grew to 500 and these were distributed to children from the Kibera and Korogocho Slums; schools and orphanages in Naivasha; and to the EnKI programme in Nakuru where there is little access to sanitation or clean drinking water.
Along with Gillian Humphreys (Artistic Director) the Concordia International Ensemble included: Gareth McLearnon flute, Abigail Burrows flute, Satoko Fukuda violin, Jeremy Silver conductor/piano
2011 Lord Mayor’s Tour to China: ‘River Cities’ Gala at Shanghai Opera House
Celebrating the Lord Mayor’s visit to Shanghai in April 2011, Concordia’s programme in China culminated in an Orchestral Gala Concert at the magnificent Shanghai Concert Hall directed by the young British conductor and composer Benjamin Ellin. The concert began with the World première of his own River Cities Overture. The Gala performance gave a platform to the visual arts with Concordia Scenic Artist Rosie Mayhew painting two large canvasses onstage during the performance. These two canvasses were themed to represent London and Shanghai with landmarks along the river banks slowly morphing into musical instruments. The itinerary also included visits from Gillian Humphreys and the Lady Mayoress to the Shanghai International Association and the Shanghai Welfare Children’s Centre housing over 1,000 orphaned children.
Along with Gillian Humphreys the Concordia International Ensemble included: Benjamin Ellin conductor/composer, Norah King soprano, Gareth McLearnon flute and Christopher Steele tenor.
2011 Lord Mayor’s Tour to Vietnam: UK-Vietnam Gala at the Hanoi Opera House
In March 2011, in collaboration with the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Concordia presented a Gala performance in Vietnam in celebration of the 100-year Anniversary of the Hanoi Opera House. The Gala of opera and contemporary dance featured artists from the UK and Vietnam and was symbolic of the cultural, artistic, diplomatic and trade relations between the two countries. The project also provided an opportunity for young UK musicians to perform on a world stage and build mutual ties with local artists through collaborative performances. The Concordia project covered vocal masterclasses and technical theatre training in the area of audio engineering. The project also assisted in providing start-up funding for a Vietnam Performing Arts Foundation to provide performing opportunities to young artists in Vietnam.
Travelling with Gillian Humphreys were: James Cleverton baritone, Tanya Cooling soprano, Christopher Steele tenor and Tim Brice composer/audio engineer. The Gala was conducted by Concordia Alumnus Graham Sutcliffe MBE.
2010 Verdi Requiem, Hanoi Opera House, Vietnam
Concordia returned to Hanoi in May 2010 with four young Artists who performed the Verdi Requiem at the Opera House as part of the celebrations for the 1000th anniversary of the foundation of Hanoi and the 15th anniversary of Concordia!
he four Artists were James Cleverton baritone, Edward Hughes tenor, Alexandra Cassidy mezzo soprano and Joanna Weeks soprano.
2009 Educational Journey to Havana, Cuba
March 2009: Can you imagine the scene – we all tumbled out of a small Havana taxi, loaded with musical and educational gifts and a purple violin for the children of the Conservatorio de Musica ‘Manuel Saumell’. Before us we were astonished to see the mock Tudor facade of the 19th century school, home to bright, excited children squeezed into small practice rooms, even to the topmost floor – an elevated roof terrace where the boys could practice their percussion instruments at full volume to the wide-open blue sky.
Swept towards their petit theatre, we listened to delightful music from a group of talented youngsters with an audience of their peers giving them enthusiastic and, it seemed, unconditional support. Rosie Mayhew, our scenic artist, displayed the pictures drawn and painted by the children of Shapla school, Tower Hamlets, and, encouraged by Rosie, twelve young volunteers were drawing and painting their exchange impressions of Havana.
This was the reason we were in Cuba! Extending our ‘golden thread of hope’, which has taken us to Romania, Malaysia, Argentina and twice to Vietnam where we presented western style opera productions in the beautiful opera houses of Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.
James Cleverton, baritone, from ENO and Japanese violinist Satoko Fukuda, both Concordia Ambassadors, gave masterclasses for the students at the Palacio del Teatro Lyrico and at the Institute Superior de Arte respectively. Gillian presented The Still Voice Sings Within, our programme for world peace, at the Amadeo Roldan Theatre, featuring, Satoko, James, Eduardo Martin the famous Cuban guitarist/composer and his son, the exceptionally young talented pianist Dario Martin.
Rosie Mayhew painted a dramatic canvas backdrop depicting a journey from darkness into light illustrating the theme of the concert The Still Voice Sings Within as the performance progressed.
Our musical journey concluded with a concert at the beautiful Basilica Menor del Convento de San Francisco de Asis where Satoko played a new composition by Eduardo Martin, Hasta Alicia Baila, for violin and guitar, at a concert celebrating his music.
For the Artists in our party our journey had been inspirational and seven Friends of Concordia, who had travelled with us, enjoyed a fascinating and illuminating cultural and educational tour to an island rich in history and destined to face great changes in the years ahead.
2008 The Still Voice Sings Within, Renewal Arts Forum, Switzerland
As part of the Renewal Arts Forum, Concordia international ensemble Phuong Nguyen classical accordian, Miho Sanou piano, Satoko Fukuda violin, Ahmed Dickinson-Cardenas guitar and Rosie Mayhew artist presented The Still Voice Sings Within in Switzerland.
2007 The Still Voice Sings Within, Teatro dei Rozzi, Siena, Italy
Magical Medieval Siena was a fitting setting for Concordia’s debut performance in Italy in January 2007 to present The Still Voice Sings Within at the early 19th century Teatro dei Rozzi. A warm day, more suited to April than January, greeted the performers and supporters on their arrival with Christmas trees, lights and decorations still on many streets awaiting Twelfth Night. The concert took place in the restored auditorium gleaming in Concordia blue. Opening with Bach’s Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring, the cast displayed their international heritage by appearing in their national costumes. A programme of classical music from Purcell to Gershwin, Celtic melodies, American spirituals, Hungarian czardas and Argentinean tangos, captivated the audience culminating in a standing ovation for our talented performers.
2005 Pagliacci by Leoncavallo, Hanoi Opera House, Vietnam
Produced by Gillian Humphreys, in association with Graham Sutcliffe MBE, Musical Director and Conductor of the Vietnam Symphony Orchestra in Hanoi. Director Jeff Clarke chose five artists by audition to study and prepare with him the principal roles in Pagliacci.
They rehearsed for 2 weeks in London, giving a workshop presentation before flying to Hanoi with a group of Concordia supporters at the end of October.
Rehearsals with the Vietnamese orchestra and chorus were followed by two Gala performances at the world famous Opera House in Hanoi. The five artists met with local artists, and students at the conservatoire in Hanoi under-studied their operatic roles.
This built upon the bridge of friendship and education established between our two countries five years ago, when Concordia and Graham Sutcliffe opened the Ho Chi Minh Opera House with Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana. Local artists painted the scenic backdrop for Pagliacci and craftspeople designed and made the costumes for the Vietnamese chorus.