About a month ago, Coquitlam violist Reg Quiring heard a message from the UN that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.
The United Nations warned there would be a mass starvation in Africa if billions of dollars in aid didn’t come through.
The desperate plea was to avert the crisis, which is predicted to be on the same scale as after the Second World War.
Quiring wanted to help and, as director of the Coquitlam Youth Orchestra, made a request to his young musicians to turn their year-end concert into a benefit show, with 100% of the proceeds going directly to the Canadian Red Cross.
His junior, intermediate and senior members immediately signed on to the fundraiser, called Harmony Against Hunger.
And Quiring posted a link on his ensemble’s website (redcross.ca/coquitlamyouthorchestra) to ask for donations; as of Tuesday morning, the total stood at $2,750 — over and above the ticket sales to their June 10 concert at the Evergreen Cultural Centre.
Quiring, who is best known in the Tri-Cities for his New Year’s Eve recitals at the Evergreen with his pianist wife Rosemary O’Connor, said he hopes to raise a total of $7,000 for the charity; tax receipts are issued.
According to the Red Cross’ web page, the Africa Drought Appeal will help people in the region of eastern and southern Africa — many of whom are on the edge of starving to death or dying of disease. Their communities are in Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia and Nigeria. The charity money is going to Red Cross and Red Crescent teams to provide food, water and medical treatment.
Best of all, Quiring said, is that every dollar donated through the Coquitlam Youth Orchestra — as part of its Harmony Against Hunger campaign — will be matched by the federal government.
The cause is on the minds of the three soloist who will perform at the upcoming benefit show.
Violinist Yebin Kim, 15, a Grade 10 student at Pinetree secondary, said she wants to build awareness about the famine through her senior performance. She will play a Mozart concerto movement.
“It’s important to think about people and help them,” said the Port Coquitlam resident who has played the violin for 10 years.
Harim Chang, the intermediate violin soloist from Maple Creek middle, said she likes the international focus for their year-end show. “We need to do something about this. We are living in the same world,” the 14-year-old said.
And cellist Ambre Argelies, 9, who is the junior soloist, said she’s especially pleased to make her debut. The Port Moody resident and École des Pionniers student is in her first year of the orchestra — a 146-member band that Quiring started four years ago in the rehearsal hall at Evergreen; it meets every Friday night during the academic year.
Quiring said his three groups have practised for months and are ready to perform their 45-minute sets before a paying audience.
Besides classical music, each show will also feature movie medleys from Harry Potter (juniors, at noon); The Pink Panther (intermediates, at 2:45 p.m.); and James Bond (seniors, at 1:15 p.m.).
As well, Red Cross representatives will be at the concert to speak about the fund.
For tickets to Harmony Against Hunger or to make a donation to Red Cross, visit coquitlamyouthorchestra.wordpress.com.