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Residents and caregivers at the Ernest Rutherford Retirement Village in Nelson enjoy the tour's first concert.

Musicians take to the road to thank village residents and carers

A team of musicians and event industry experts are bringing live music to the country’s retirement villages during the COVID-19 response, and they need your help.

The programme, called From Us With Aroha, has launched an appeal to raise the $200,000 needed to get the wheels rolling on its two specialist trucks, fitted out with a stage and concert sound system. For a concert, one of the trucks will park up in a suitable outdoor space in or near the village or care home and residents will be able to hear and share in the music from inside their own room. They do not need to go outside or congregate to enjoy the concert, thus eliminating the risk of spreading COVID-19. Only one musician and one truck driver will be onsite, and both will stay in the truck.

The music will come from the talented hands of organists Mark Patterson and Dr Kemp English and will be a mix of modern and classical. The free concerts are intended to bring joy, connection and aroha to a facility’s residents and care staff, while being completely contactless. The aim is to visit as many homes as funds allow.

The tour kicked off on May 20 at the Ernest Rutherford Retirement Village in Nelson to an appreciative audience of several hundred residents and care workers. “It was so lovely and amazing to have the wonderful music today. I enjoyed every minute. I couldn’t stop smiling,” one resident said afterwards.

The trucks are fitted with large LED walls that will screen messages of connection and thanks from businesses and the public during the concert. Messages will also go in the printed concert programme that each resident will receive. After the tour, a book and video will be produced so that residents and workers can keep the messages forever.

From Us With Aroha is a registered charity and has partnered with Age Concern for the fundraising campaign. Any excess money raised will go to the organisation to help its work supporting older people wherever they reside.

Stephanie Clare, chief executive of Age Concern, says it’s an amazing event to be part of. “Aroha is what we need at the moment, and music always brings us together and fills our hearts. We will look back on this period and remember occasions like this where connecting and having experiences of joy and kindness were really cherished.”

To help bring the tour to your town, you can donate at givealittle.co.nz/cause/fromuswitharoha. To find out more about the project, go to facebook.com/fromuswitharoha. Businesses interested in supporting the project should email info@fromuswitharoha.co.nz. One option is to pay to have their own message of support displayed on the LED screens.

Musicians Mark Patterson and Kemp English celebrate the start of their tour.

Mark Patterson is an organist and director of Tasman small business Lifestyle Audio Visual. His grandfather was once at Rosewood Rest Home and Hospital, Christchurch, which has been affected deeply through COVID-19, and he wanted to bring some joy through music to our most vulnerable.

Kemp English is one of the gems of the organ concert stage. Based in New Zealand, he is in demand worldwide as a solo organist, collaborative pianist and specialist fortepiano exponent. He features regularly on Radio NZ, the ABC, BBC Radio, Classic FM UK and USA radio networks. Find out more here.

About Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson
Mark Wilson is Content Creator and Publication Lead at Eldernet and Care Publications. Mark has been a senior journalist and editor for several publishers, notably The Press and its then parent company, Fairfax Media. He has a wide range of experience in newspapers, magazines and online publishing. When not at work, he enjoys walking Olive the dog along New Brighton beach and exploring Te Wai Pounamu/South Island with his partner, Lee, in their trusty 4WD.

One comment

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    Such a thoughtful and well written article. Thank you so very much