Pupils' concert reaction earns piano

NAOMI ARNOLD
Last updated 13:00 03/12/2013

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Victory Primary School pupils were so touched by a piano concert that a music trust has given them an instrument of their own as a Christmas present.

Piano on Tour Charitable Trust founders Claire Rouault and Jean-Francois Robert, together with Selwyn Place store Mr Music, donated the Challen piano yesterday.

The model is designed especially for young and boisterous hands.

"The keys are nearly impossible to destroy," Mr Robert said.

"It's the kind of piano you put in a classroom and normally five years later it's still OK."

Offering instruments to low decile schools was part of Piano on Tour's mission to bring classical music to the wider community.

Mr Robert said the gift was brought about by the children's reaction to a concert Ms Rouault gave earlier in the year.

"Something really happened between these children and Claire. They were concentrating even 15 minutes or 30 minutes later, and we didn't expect that. They were really interested in classical music beyond any expectation."

Deputy principal Wendy Taylor said there was great excitement when the gift was announced, after another concert given by Ms Rouault. It is the school's first permanent piano.

"[The pupils] all stood up and were really keen to see it. Children were playing it and looking down the front to see all the parts. It's a lovely piano."

Mrs Taylor said the school had access to music lessons through the Ministry of Education and hoped to provide some for enthusiastic children who understood there was a lot of hard work as involved as well as opportunity.

Mr Robert said it was widely acknowledged that music had a positive and beneficial impact on individuals and communities. A September Claire Rouault concert in Takaka sold out so quickly that they had been asked to organise a second one, which sold out too.

He said Ms Rouault's concerts sold out wherever she went.

"For us, this amazing response is very rewarding and proves one thing for sure: one can definitely not say that there is no audience for classical music in New Zealand. It is just a question of accessibility in every sense.

"While classical music concerts in New Zealand's smaller communities are rare or even non-existent, we have found that these communities thirst for and appreciate the benefits of these concerts."

Ms Rouault will also give a complimentary Christmas concert today at The Wood Retirement Village. Her next public concert is at the Nelson School of Music on December 12.

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- The Nelson Mail

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