Pacific opera singers in London rally together to raise much needed funds
England began its second national lockdown last Thursday. It was a necessary measure to tackle the virus and save lives, but also a further devastating blow for the community.
Kiwi opera singers Filipe Manu, Benson Wilson, Madison Nonoa, Isabella Moore and Marlena Devoe are among those feeling the emotional and financial impact in a year that has silenced the arts. They’ve rallied together to form a group with all the Kiwi opera singers in London that they know called Whānau London Voices.
A day before lockdown, Whānau London Voices filmed an hour-long concert of New Zealand, Māori and Pasifika songs at the Royal Albert Hall for the out of work and struggling New Zealand opera singers far from home during this pandemic – many of whom have fallen through the cracks of government help.
The concert was the first professional engagement for many of these performers since March, and now it might be their only professional engagement for the rest of the year.
In order to raise spirits and some much needed funds for the artists, the concert will broadcast at 1pm on Monday 23 November on RNZ Concert (repeated 6pm Sunday 29 November). Video of the performance will be available on the RNZ website from 9am on Monday 23 November, for one month, and will also be available on YouTube.
Video of the performance will be available on the RNZ website from 9am on Monday 23 November, for one month.
“We have been silenced for months through no fault of our own and we are incredibly proud and excited to share the smallest of insights into what it feels to be us at the moment, what our Whānau means to us, and how we long for home, for better times and to be together once again,” the group says.
Artists include: Organiser and baritone Julien Van Mellaerts, organiser and soprano Madeleine Pierard, Filipe Manu, Madison Nonoa, Benson Wilson, Phillip Rhodes, Isabella Moore, Kieran Rayner, Marlena Devoe, Sophie Sparrow, Katherine McIndoe, Christie Cook, Claire Egan, Kamilla Dunstan, Rhonda Browne, Carleen Ebbs, Clinton Fung, Leila Alexander, Kamilla Dunstan, Jonathan Eyers, Harry Grigg, Jarrod Lee, Benjamin Reason, pianist Bradley Wood and award- winning NZ conductor Tianyi Lu.
They will be joined by Ngāti Rānana London Māori Club for a pōwhiri (welcome) and karakia (prayer) to open the concert, plus speeches by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, New Zealand High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Bede Corry, and singers, Julien Van Mellaerts and Phillip Rhodes.
Any donations can be made to their Go Fund Me page here.
In the meantime, watch members of Whānau London Voices sing a beautiful rendition of Fa’afetai i Le Atua above.