African Children’s Choir

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Luke Warden is the tour organiser for the Mid North Coast leg of the African Children’s Choir’s upcoming visit to Australia. Children from the choir will be billeted by school families in Port Macquarie, the Camden Haven and Taree, and will present several concerts and public workshops in conjunction with our local school children throughout these areas. Don’t miss your opportunity to witness one of these performances – they promise to be something very special!

Hi Luke. Introduce yourself please …
I am Luke Warden, a resident of the Mid North Coast since 2002. I live in Port Macquarie and work as a manager at North Haven Bowling Club.

How did you first become aware of the African Children’s Choir?
In 2012 I was invited to participate in an humanitarian tour to Uganda. This was conducted by the charity I volunteer for, KwaYa Australia. 50 travellers from across Australia took over $100,000 in raised charity funds and half a tonne of donated clothing to visit orphanages, perform cultural exchange activities with school children of the slums, fund and conduct cleanups in the slums, and conduct musical workshops and perform with the African Children’s Choir.

Describe how the choir was brought to the Mid North Coast in 2013, as a result of this initial visit to Uganda – and explain the special visit the choir has planned again this year …
Upon returning to Australia, some members of KwaYa discussed bringing the African Children’s Choir’s over for their first tour of eastern Australia (2013). Initially it was only planned for capital cities, but I convinced organisers that the Mid North Coast should be included in the tour. The purpose of the tour was to raise funds for the ongoing care of choir children, and fund sustainability and self-sufficiency initiatives at ACC’s primary boarding school in Uganda.
The local leg of the tour was different in that, for the first time, the African Children’s Choir would be hosted by an Australian primary school. The children from ACC were welcomed into the homes of students of St Joseph’s Primary School, Laurieton. They attended school together, shared meals, played together after school and on the weekend, and performed together in concert. In all, over 1,000 tickets were sold to three sell-out events over three consecutive days. It provided a unique opportunity for local children to broaden their understanding of the world and participate in an event that they would remember for years to come.
Due to the success of ACC’s visit to St Joseph’s, this year there will be more than 10 schools from Geelong in Victoria through to Southeast Queensland, hosting the choir on tour. With even more schools involved in performances and workshops, tens of thousands of Australian students will be a part of the 2015 tour.
My sister, Mel Hunt, AP at St Joseph’s Primary School Laurieton during the 2013 tour, is now AP at St Joseph’s Primary School in Taree, who will host ACC on the last stop of their Mid North Coast tour.
Following the 2013 tour, four members from two billet families, Jenny, Sam and Marg Black, and Tammy Magnus, were so moved by their own experience, that they joined KwaYa’s 2014 humanitarian tour to Uganda.
Upon their return, Tammy and Jenny founded “KwaYa Arts of Africa”, a non profit initiative now based in Sydney, importing and selling arts and crafts made by Ugandans, with profits donated back to the artists.
Jenny and Tammy have joined with 2013 billet mum Julie Krige to assist with preparations for the 2015 tour.
Following the Australian tour, I will prepare for my return to Uganda in September, which will also be attended by Australian recording artist, Kate Miller-Heidke.

What are the dates/local venues for the African Children’s Choir’s Under One Sky 2015 Australian Tour?
The African Children’s Choir will visit the Mid North Coast in the last week of May and the first week of June as part of their 2015 Under One Sky Australian Tour.
To kick off the local tour, the choir will put on a free performance at the Slice of Haven Food & Wine Festival in Laurieton on Sunday 24 May, followed by a series of events in Port Macquarie, Camden Haven and Taree:

Monday 25 May – Public Workshop – 7pm
Performing Arts Centre, St Joseph’s Regional College – Port Macquarie
Adults $15, Child/con. $10.

Wednesday 27 May – Concert – 7:30pm
The Glasshouse Theatre – Port Macquarie
Hosted by St Joseph’s Regional College
Adults $25, Child/con. $15.

Thursday 28 May – Fundraising Diner – 6:30pm
Oasis by the River Restaurant – North Haven
Include drinks/canapes on arrival, main and dessert, with choir performances and presentation.
$95 per person (limited to 50 seats).

Saturday 30 May – Concert – 7pm
North Haven Bowling & Recreation Club – North Haven. Hosted by St Joseph’s Primary School (Laurieton)
Adults $15, Child/con. $10

Monday 1 June – Concert – 7:30pm
Manning Entertainment Centre – Taree
with the combined choirs of St Joseph’s Primary School (Taree) and St Clare’s High School
Adult $25, Child/con. $15.

Tuesday 2 June – Public Workshop – 7pm
St Joseph’s Primary School – Taree
Adults $15, Child/con. $10.

TICKETS

Tickets for the Fundraising Dinner at Oasis by the River are available at the venue only.Tickets for all other events are available from the venue or online. Visit: www.kwaya.org/ACCConcertsandWshops2015 or www.facebook.com/underoneskytour2015/events

Which schools will be hosting the choir for their 2015 visit?
Whilst on the Mid North Coast, the African Children’s choir will be hosted and billeted by and perform in concert with:
Port Macquarie – St Joseph’s Regional College.
Camden Haven – St Joseph’s Primary School (Laurieton).
Taree – St Joseph’s Primary School (Taree), joined in concert by St Clare’s High School.
For the duration of their stay, each school will provide billets to cater for meals, accommodation, washing, transport and all other living needs.

Tell us more about the format of the concerts and public workshops …
The format of concerts will be 30 minutes (host choir), 1 hour (African Children’s Choir) plus combined choir finale. The Public Workshops are described as a grass roots cultural exchange with the children of The African Children’s Choir that will entertain adults and children alike.
Grab this very rare opportunity to get up close and personal with the choir. This event is all about public participation – learn the songs, the dance moves, and the art of African Drumming as the children invite you to share in their story.
You will laugh, you may well cry, and you will be touched forever by the warmth and pure joy of these amazing children.

Who are the sponsors for this year’s Mid North Coast tour?

The Mid North Coast tour is supported by North Haven Bowling & Recreation Club,
Bonny Hills Friendly Grocer (Julie Krige). The Camden Haven leg of the tour is sponsored by Camvet Veterinary Surgery (Gavin Rippon).

Thanks Luke. Interview by Jo Atkins.

This article was from issue 116 of Greater Port Macquarie Focus.

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