Linwood College Orchestra European Tour 2011

Orchestra to Rise Like the Phoenix

[Our Story] [Our Wonderful Supporters] [Media Coverage] [Photo Gallery]
[Hear the Orchestra play the Sabre Dance] [Watch them play Danse Macabre at the Christchurch Town Hall]

Trip to Go Ahead

The February 22 earthquake that devastated the city of Christchurch dealt a major shock to the efforts of Linwood College Orchestra students preparing for a European tour to culminate in a performance at Westminster Abbey on ANZAC Day (25 April). But the Orchestra and its supporters have been determined to make the April 9 departure to play in Italy, Salzburg, the UK, and most of all the Abbey. We are delighted to announce that the trip will indeed be going ahead, thanks to very generous support from Fletcher Building and the Freemasons, as well as substantial donations from the guests of the MS Europa cruise ship, the Canterbury Earthquake Assistance Trust, Linwood Old Boy Richard Garland and many other donations large and small from well-wishers around the country and, indeed, around the world. The Orchestra gave a free concert at the Aurora Center of April 4 to to thank the community for its support shortly before its departure.


The big donations from the Freemasons and Fletchers mean we can cover the travel costs now. And the individual donations that are coming in are being put towards some of the other costs of the trip which we’d normally get the school community to cover – supporting the accompanying music teachers, copying the music, building replacement travel cases. It’s going to make a huge difference and take a lot of the pressure off the students, their families and staff.
Board of Trustees chair, Tim Anderson

If you'd like to know more about the Linwood College Orchestra and its Phoenix Tour, take a look at Our Story. It'll give you the background; information on the orchestra, its tour and its playing; and introduce you to the people and other performance groups and soloists who will be a part of this.

Back to top

Our Story

The Tour

In 2009 representatives of the Christchurch Sister City Committee attended an event in the Christchurch Town Hall at which the Linwood College Orchestra performed. They were so impressed by the calibre of the performance that they approached the school to send the orchestra to Christchurch, Dorset, in the UK as their representatives in 2011.

Linwood College enthusiastically took up the challenge to raise the funds to turn this extraordinary idea into reality. They were encouraged by an initial gift of $10,000 by an anonymous benefactor as a result of seeing the orchestra in action earlier in the year. It will be the trip of a lifetime for Linwood students, many of whom come from modest backgrounds and who haven’t travelled outside of the South Island. It is the type of opportunity that is not often available to students from this socio-economic area and many will be getting their first passports for this trip.

Along with the orchestra, the Linwood College Jazz Band will also be part of the tour. Singers and instrumental soloists will complete and complement the musical diversity of the tour. The tour repertoire is extensive, and its variety and richness showcases the quality, versatility and diversity of this exceptional orchestra. Music ranges from popular classics to operatic showpieces, from original compositions to works based on traditional New Zealand Maori Waiata (song).

Music from each of the countries being visited on the tour has been included. From Italy there’s Rossini’s William Tell Overture for Florence (where the composer’s tomb can be found) and Puccini’s O Mio Babino Caro which includes mention of the famous Ponte Vecchio. For Rome, the programme includes Respighi’s Pines of the Appian Way, and for Venice there’s Offenbach’s famous gondoliers’ song, Barcarolle from The Tales of Hoffman. Other pieces include Saint-Säens’ Danse Macabre and Bizet’s Carmen Overture. Such a large orchestra is not well-suited to Mozart so, for Salzburg, Austria is represented by Franz von Suppé’s sparkling Light Cavalry Overture. In the UK the great English composer, Edward Elgar, contributes Nimrod from his Enigma Variations and the Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1. The performance at Westminster Abbey on ANZAC day also includes the heart-rending Pie Jesu from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Requiem.

Russian orchestral showpieces complement the tour programme with works by Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Stravinsky and Ipolitov-Ivanov, while The Linwood March by the orchestra’s conductor, Tony Ryan, and other New Zealand pieces bring a taste of the antipodes to these great European centres of Western musical culture.

The Orchestra has a full itinerary:

In between all the rehearsals and concerts, the students will have a variety of cultural activities and opportunities. If you'd like to see what we expect they will get out of it in a formal educational sense, take a look at the learning outcomes (PDF).

The First Earthquake and the Second

Initially a group of determined former students offered to take on the large task of fund-raising for this bold and worthwhile enterprise. Plans proceeded to plan until 4 September 2010, when a devastating earthquake altered priorities and changed lives. Without knowing how this would affect the tour plans, the students decided to give some of their hard-earned funds to the earthquake appeal.

Slowly and with much determination the tour gradually caught up lost ground until 22 February this year, when an even more violent earthquake struck Christchurch with tragic results. Linwood College is no longer able to open at its own school site, and some students and staff suffered the loss of homes and loved ones. Those who were able to continued to try to keep the tour organisation going and, with the help of considerable supportive media coverage, several very generous donations and other assistance ensured that the Linwood College Orchestra would definitely proceed with its tour.

Those involved quickly realised that the trip was just what was needed to get beyond merely coping with the earthquake and to get everyone’s lives back on track and to look forward to a positive future. Hence the idea of naming this project Linwood College Orchestra – The Phoenix Tour, with Stravinsky’s Firebird music, included in the tour programme, representing the symbolic rising of the Phoenix from the ashes.

The Orchestra

The Linwood College Orchestra comprises over eighty musicians with nearly seventy participating in this tour. Most of the student musicians began learning their instruments only after starting secondary school and almost all hire their instruments from the School Music Department. Very few have learned music for more than 2–5 years. Even so, this dedicated and determined group have gained a reputation for dynamic and exciting music-making.

They are supported on this tour by a few of their instrumental tutors: Susan Gill (Flute), Judy Shillito (Clarinet), Helen Reddecliffe (Bassoon), Ian Thorpe (Saxophone), Bogdan Kievski (Violin), Gerald Oliver (Cello), and Rodney Derham (Trombone).

Recent praise for the orchestra's performances:

“Fantastic energy… …A most enjoyable performance… …A well presented programme… … Very good sense of style… … What a huge sound!... …We were impressed with the quality, standard and enthusiasm of the students… …(We were) swept up with the professionalism displayed in the music... a class above, Linwood College’s energy and commitment stood out… …Linwood College demonstrated a standard that was most impressive… …Is Linwood a performing arts college?

Linwood College has been providing secondary education to a high standard in the eastern part of Christchurch for more than 50 years. It boasts a proud history of performing arts education and can demonstrate the educational and cultural value resulting from the dedication and commitment the school has to music. Linwood College consistently achieves beyond expectations. Staff work hard to foster talent and provide opportunities, and they know the value and benefit of an involvement in music. Music changes lives.

I am fortunate to work with such a diverse group of ages, cultures, abilities and personalities, watching them learn, watching them grow as people, watching them develop a spirit of community and teamwork, watching them strive for excellence, and sharing with them artistic and cultural experiences that all-too-few young New Zealanders ever get to encounter.
Tony Ryan, Head of Music, Linwood College

The Jazz Band, Barbershop Boys and Other Soloists

The Linwood Jazz Band will also be part of the tour. All the players in the jazz band are also members of the orchestra and the quality of their playing is evident by their recent clean sweep of all the top prizes and most of the individual prizes at the Southern Jam.

Along with the Jazz Band, several other sub-groups of the orchestra add variety and some diverse talents to the tour programme. First among these is a male vocal quartet known as The Barbershop Boys whose appearances at concerts and fundraising events always adds markedly to the enjoyment. Their appearance at last year’s Gala Concert in Christchurch’s Theatre Royal was such a hit that there was no question about their inclusion in the tour. Apart from Alpha, who will also contribute to other vocal aspects of the programme, the other three are also members of the orchestra: Ben is first trombone, with Joe on tuba, and David in the percussion section specialising on xylophone.

Two other singers, Karen Tewnion-Smith and Grace Irving, will leave their orchestra chairs for some solos as will the orchestra’s leader, Anja Stampfli and co-leader Thomas Lee, for a couple of violin solos.

Tony Ryan, Orchestra Conductor

Tony Ryan has been Head of the Music Department at Linwood College since 1979. He is a leading teacher in his field and has played a significant role in the evolution of the national music curriculum. As a composer, Tony has written a large number of scores for professional organisations including the Christchurch Symphony, the Christchurch Youth Orchestra, as well as over a dozen full-length scores for Linwood College’s prestigious original music-drama productions. His opera The Musicians of Bremen was performed to a sell-out season and his musical Alice was the Court Theatre’s summer show, both in 1996. He is also Radio New Zealand Concert’s chief Christchurch reviewer.

However, his greatest energy has been dedicated to Linwood College, to demanding excellence from its musicians, and to ensuring that the benefits of musical opportunities and their rewards are available to the widest possible range of students. He says:

I am fortunate to work with such a diverse group of ages, cultures, abilities and personalities, watching them learn, watching them grow as people, watching them develop a spirit of community and teamwork, watching them strive for excellence, and sharing with them artistic and cultural experiences that all-too-few young New Zealanders ever get to encounter.

Andrew Murphy Jazz Band Director

Andrew Murphy joined the Linwood College Music Department five years ago and has proved to be an ideal member of a very strong team. He has honed the skills of the school Jazz Band, created a crack Jazz Combo and has led both to spectacular success in performances and competitions throughout New Zealand. Himself a very talented trumpeter, Andrew also plays in the orchestra for this tour, while his other skills have proved invaluable in preparing travel cases, technical and electrical equipment and managing many other aspects of the tour.

Back to top

Media Coverage

In case you'd like to hear more about our efforts, here is an interview on National Radio.

Television New Zealand's news item on the Orchestra's plight:

Tony Ryan, conductor, talking about the tour on Radio New Zealand Concert 's Upbeat programme.

The Telegraph in the UK has written about this plight in very moving terms; see the article here

Back to top

Sponsors and Supporters

As well as students and parents, their families and friends, we have had sponsorship, grants and support from a range of individuals and organisations over the past two years, and we would like to thank all of them. In particular we would thank those who came to our aid in the dark days after the February 22 earthquake when it seemed that the dream was over. If it hadn't been for the fast generous response we received, the Orchestra would not have been able to travel.

That response came, not just from New Zealand, but from across the world as our story spread through social networks, family ties, music groups, school communities, ex-pat and veterans societies, and so many others. Our thanks to all those who helped to "boost the signal" and bring in donations from $5 on up. It was all very much appreciated, as were the kind words of encouragement and support which gave us strength in adversity. We couldn't have done it without you.

The generosity and goodwill of everyone has been overwhelming and very humbling.
Linwood College Principal Margaret Paiti

Phoenix Tour Supporters

Mark Binns, Chief Executive Infrastructure of Fletcher Building, says that his company is keen to support the effort. “Rebuilding the city is about more than bricks and mortar, it’s also about rebuilding the dreams of those who live there.”

David Mace, Chairman of the Freemasons Roskill Foundation, says that the Freemasons are delighted to support this worthy cause. He points out that Mozart,Verdi and Sir Arthur Sullivan were all Freemasons, and supporting musical excellence comes naturally to the group. “We believe it is vitally important to help these young people. They’re such a thoroughly professional group who can represent the spirit of Christchurch and its hopes for the future.”

Pre-Quake Supporters

Special Help

Back to top

Other Activities

2011 Calendar Celebrating Linwood College Visual and Performing Arts

The stunning calendar featured art works by former students of Linwood College and profiled some of our outstanding and internationally-recognised performing artists. Those included are painters Tony Fomison, Saskia Leek, Tony de Lautour, Grant Takle and Kees Bruin, sculptor Llew Summers; along with international violinist Fiona Pears, opera singer Rodney Macann and actor John Bach.
Our thanks to everyone who bought a calendar -- we donated some of the funds to the September Earthquake Appeal.

Back to top

Eastgate News: Linwood College Orchestra Goes Global

Eastgate Shopping Centre is helping to spread the news of the Linwood College Orchestra Tour, with an article in their recent community newsletter. Here's an extract:

In 2009 representatives of the Christchurch Sister City Committee (a sub committee of the Christchurch City Council) attended an event in the Christchurch Town Hall at which the Linwood Orchestra performed. They were so “blown away” by the calibre of the performance that they approached the school to send the entire orchestra (more than 80 students and teachers) to Christchurch in the UK as their representatives in 2011.

Linwood College has jumped at such an amazing opportunity and is now frantically raising funds to turn the dream into a reality. This is the trip of a lifetime for any budding musician! Let alone the Linwood College Orchestra, many students of which come from modest backgrounds.

The challenge? To raise $300,000! $2,500 is being raised by each student (so keep an eye out for students near you selling fundraising chocolates, sausage sizzles and or busking!), plus a huge team of students, staff, parents, former pupils and local supporters have teamed together to raise the additional $200,000.

So far they are reaching targets, with one very generous anonymous benefactor donating $10,000 earlier this year, but they need all the help they can get. How [can] you contribute in developing the next generation of kiwi artists?

Back to top

TV3: Charity fatigue leaves orchestra a little flat (16 Oct)

TV3 covered the orchestra's efforts in the wake of the September earthquake. The team had lost some time in selling their fund-raising calendars (and had donated some of those hard-won proceeds to the earthquake fund), but were starting to bounce back. Here's an extract:

Linwood College's school hall was an emergency relief centre during the Canterbury earthquake but now it's returned to being rehearsal space for the college's 80 strong orchestra. They've been invited to tour Europe next year, playing in historic music venues in Paris, Rome and London and finishing in Christchurch - England.

The school has raised $100,000 but needs to raise that much again. It was money they were confident of raising from corporate donors until the earthquake hit...

And a comment from a student:

I'm really looking forward to the trip but it has been hard fundraising. Senior students have exams coming up and juggling with fundraising. (and some doing scholarships) It will be very disappointing if the tour was canceled.

See the full TV3 item here

Back to top

Linwood College Orchestra Gallery

Click on any thumbnail to see a correctly-proportioned picture in a new window.

Back to top