The Virtuoso Strings Charitable Trust
The Virtuoso Strings Charitable Trust is a registered and incorporated charity (CC50199), established in 2013. According to the Trust Deed, their purpose is to provide free music education and performance opportunities to socio-economically deprived individuals and communities.
Virtuoso Strings Music Programmes
The Virtuoso Strings Charitable Trust runs a comprehensive, holistic, free music scheme, including a community orchestra, based in Cannons Creek Porirua. We truly believe that music education has far reaching impacts, and should be accessible for all. We aim to ensure that every student is catered to, no matter how diverse their needs. The links between learning a musical instrument, personal growth, mental & physical wellbeing, and academic success have been well established. Through providing music tuition and opportunities to engage cooperatively as an orchestra, we equip our students with real skills for life. We witness a tremendous boost to participants' confidence and self-belief. Together we delight in watching younger members of the orchestra grow into dependable, determined, forward-looking,community-minded, self-assured and hard-working teenagers with bright futures.
Well over 200 students from Porirua East come through our music programmes each year. We run music classes out of 10 partnering decile 1 & 2 schools during the school day; we hold classes after school, and evening orchestra rehearsals several times each week. Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors, we are also able to offer tuition to selected students on an individual basis.
During each school holiday period we hold high intensity Holiday Programmes.
The highlight of every year is the Junior Orchestra trip and the Senior Orchestra tour. Our musicians get a buzz from travelling with their friends around New Zealand to perform at top concert venues. Not only are they are incredibly proud to showcase their musical achievement, but they bring great pride to their whanau and the Porirua community as a whole.
The Virtuoso Strings Orchestra plays at numerous community and cultural events throughout the year, and aims to reach diverse audiences. Almost all of our concerts are free, as we also believe that everybody should have the opportunity to enjoy music in some form, to nourish their soul.
All students are encouraged to perform as often as possible, enter competitions, and sit Trinity College London Music Exams.
We are always striving, always trying to sound better, always working hard to realise our potential.
We are convinced that a genuinely inclusive approach to music education will lead to significant changes in the Classical Landscape and that as a result, New Zealand instrumental music will be enriched and enhanced.
Founders and Trustees
The Virtuoso Strings Orchestra was formed in 2012 by Elizabeth Sneyd and Craig Utting. Today the popular youth orchestra is based in Cannons Creek, Porirua, and run by the Virtuoso Strings Charitable Trust.
Elizabeth and Craig were initially driven by a desire to create equal opportunities in music.and make New Zealand’s classical music landscape more diverse. They were in awe of the natural talent in the community, especially among Maori and Pasifika students, but felt disheartened by the fact that orchestras around New Zealand were so lacking in cultural diversity.
They also couldn't help but notice that children from wealthy families had much greater access to quality music education than those with more meagre financial resources. It started as a low-key effort to provide free instruments, lessons and transport to a small group of students, but transformed quickly into the flourishing music scheme it is today. Virtuoso Strings is now firmly embedded in the psyche of Porirua community, with almost every Cannons Creek child aspiring to learn the violin or cello, travel the country and perform on the big stage.
Siang Lim and Elizabeth Sneyd were the founding trustees of the Virtuoso Strings Charitable Trust. Their ideas eventually came to fruition after many covert conversations in their open-plan working environment at the Ministry of Health, where Siang was an accountant and Elizabeth a mathematician. Years later, Elizabeth finds herself totally immersed in the work of the Virtuoso Strings Charitable Trust. Siang, was a much loved and respected board member who provided valuable oversight. She resigned in early 2018 after nearly five years of service to make way for James Faraimo and Joyce Fuatavai on the Board of Trustees. Both James and Joyce are parents of talented youngsters in the Virtuoso Strings Orchestra, and bring a wealth of knowledge, experience and understanding to the Board.