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Pop star Sam Smith’s violin is in North Yorkshire on its way to a new life in Nepal. Sam donated his signed, white violin to an instrument amnesty organised in London in 2015 by the Ronnie Scott Foundation, the charitable arm of the world famous jazz club. And the Foundation this summer gave it to Harrogate Brigantes Rotary Club along with other instruments that will soon be shipped to a charity in Nepal that needs instruments to teach disadvantaged children to play.
All this came about because of Brigantes’ Kids Aloud 2019 project which brought a choir of 40 children from Nepal to perform in the Royal Hall with some 500 local children in March this year. The children in Nepal and Yorkshire were helped to write songs for a musical adaptation of an old Nepali fairy story, “Monkey Boy”, by Croydon-based composer Shri Sriram, who occasionally performs at Ronnie Scott’s in London’s Soho district. The Nepali choir was directed by Sumit Pokhrel who, as well as teaching music at the Valley Public High School in Kathmandu, also runs a music charity, MusicArt Society.
MusicArt has been providing free music education to underprivileged children (those belonging to low income families, slum children, children with special needs and orphans) since the year 2009. They have just acquired some land on which to build a permanent headquarters for their activities in Kathmandu.
But when Sumit talked of his work to Shri during the visit of the Nepali choir to Yorkshire it became clear that he had one major problem – a lack of western instruments on which the children could learn. Shri said he might be able to help and approached the Ronnie Scott Foundation which organises annual instrument “amnesties” and passes on donated instruments to worthy causes at home and abroad.
Through his good offices MusicArt was accepted as one of this year’s causes and a few weeks ago Rotarians Andy Morrison and Guy Wilson drove to London to collect the instruments allocated to Nepal in a van provided free by Kaydee Engineering Plastics Ltd of Shipley, Bradford.
Rob Ward, Managing Director explained:
When we heard from our IT provider, Andisa IT of Harrogate, that they were involved in the project to send musical instruments to Nepal we just wanted to help.
We allowed Andisa to use one of our vehicles to pick up the instruments from London. That in turn means that the money saved can now be used to transport them to Nepal instead.
It’s been a great way to cement our relationship with an important partner to our business and everyone is a winner.
In total Ronnie Scott’s gave Brigantes 25 instruments including another violin, flutes, recorders, trumpets, a piccolo, guitars, a ukulele, a set of bongo drums and a penny whistle. But the star of the show is Sam Smith’s signed white violin. In a few months’ time a lucky child in Nepal will be playing it and will always be grateful to Sam and Ronnie Scott’s and Shri and all those who helped to get it to Nepal.
However, the job’s not quite done yet. Before the 25 instruments are packed and sent on their way MusicArt in Nepal is hoping that a few instruments can be added to that list.
Guy Wilson, Creative Director of Kids Aloud 2019 explains:
This year’s ‘Monkey Boy’ show and the visit of the children’s choir from Nepal was a great success.
Those children have had an experience they will never forget and that we hope will help them on their journey through life. That’s great but we had also hope that we might be able to leave a more tangible legacy in Nepal and now Ronnie Scott’s instrument amnesty has given us a chance to make a significant contribution to a wonderful cause –
bringing the joy of music making to some of the poorest and most disadvantaged children in Nepal. But our friend Sumit Pokhrel, who so brilliantly directed the young musicians from Nepal in the Royal Hall this year, needs as many musical instruments as we can provide.
So I’m asking families, schools and musical groups – if you’ve got any violins, cellos, flutes, guitars, trumpets, trombones, keyboards or drums that you no longer need, please think about giving them to us to help those poor children in Nepal.
And if you would like to help but have no instruments, then a financial donation to Harrogate Brigantes Rotary Club, however small, would assist with the costs (£2000-£4000 depending on the number of instruments to be sent) of getting the instruments to Nepal.