Orches­tra play­ing a tune called suc­cess


Pasi­fika kids from one of Welling­ton’s poor­est com­mu­ni­ties are break­ing down bar­ri­ers in the hope they’ll one day be­come bright stars in the world of clas­si­cal mu­sic.

This is Porirua East. An area that last hit na­tional head­lines be­cause of an armed seige in one of its so­cial hous­ing units that ended with a man’s death, and that of a po­lice dog, last year.

A group of kids nearby, many from Can­nons Creek, had an ex­tended orches­tra re­hearsal that night be­cause the build­ing they were prac­tis­ing in got locked­down.

Since its in­cep­tion five years ago, those kids have be­come one of the coun­try’s top young string or­ches­tras, the Vir­tu­oso Strings Orches­tra.

Founded by a char­i­ta­ble trust off the back of vol­un­teer work from hus­band and wife team Liz Sneyd and Craig Utting the orches­tra is hav­ing a tough time at­tract­ing enough grants to keep up with the needs of more than 160 pupils from 11 decile 1 and 2 schools.

About 40 of the se­nior kids are fu­ri­ously fundrais­ing to get money to cover travel ex­penses ahead of a big con­cert with artists Ria Hall, Lisa Tom­lins and Wini Bax­ter in Auck­land in July.

Taloa Faraimo, 14, has been play­ing vi­o­lin for about two years and blasts the lead role in the orches­tra’s string ver­sion of the Jimi Hen­drix hit Pur­ple Haze.

‘‘This com­mu­nity is re­ally mu­si­cal in dif­fer­ent ways. And when you in­tro­duce them to a dif­fer­ent genre, peo­ple take an in­ter­est in this dif­fer­ent thing that just ap­peared one day and they all flock to­ward it.

‘‘You mostly get en­ergy when you play with other peo­ple. You feel like this team spirit. Like you’re con­nect­ing.’’

Taloa’smum­moved to New Zealand from Fiji. She makes sure


The Vir­tu­oso Strings Orches­tra has be­come one of the coun­try’s top young string or­ches­tras.

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