He's sung with some of the world's most prestigious orchestras, but when Grammy award-winning operatic bass Jonathan Lemalu steps onto the stage in Wellington's Opera House next Monday evening, he will be accompanied by an orchestra of nearly 50 school children from Porirua.
Virtuoso Strings is made up of students from a dozen different decile 1 and decile 2 schools around Porirua.
The orchestra started in 2013 when musicians Elizabeth Sneyd and Craig Utting felt financial barriers should never get in the way of a child picking up a violin and began providing free music tuition for young people in East Porirua.
Virtuoso Strings has gone on to become one of the best youth orchestras in the country and Elizabeth Sneyd was recently named New Zealand's first ever Music Teacher of the Year.
Lemalu, who recently offered to become the orchestra's patron, considers it the "ultimate honour" to support Virtuoso Strings. "It’s tremendously exciting..." he says. "And to do so with an inclusive music charity that broadens New Zealand’s classical landscape is the perfect mission statement to put my name, patronage and full support behind.”
Acclaimed conductor maestro Kenneth Young will be at the helm for a concert that includes music by Bach, Mozart, Gershwin, Copland, Rodgers and Hammerstein; something for all audiences and ages.