21 Feb 2018
Two Christchurch music lovers – a millennial and baby boomer – have found volunteering for Christchurch Symphony Orchestra (CSO) has helped improve their well-being and meet people with a common interest.
Twenty-four-year-old Caitlin Godfrey volunteers for the CSO coordinating a group of about 100 young people who act as ushers, programme sellers, foyer hosts and general helpers at concerts.
Caitlin made a spur of the moment decision to volunteer four years ago. She found it a great way to meet other young people with an interest in classical music. It was also important to her emotional well-being as she adapted to an illness that had forced her to give up her music studies.
While I couldn’t manage full-time study I could take on two hours of volunteering work at a concert. It meant I could get out the door and do something productive rather than being at home 24/7, said Caitlin.
There was also the added bonus of free entry to CSO concerts. “Once you have everyone seated you can sit at the back for the concert. It’s great.”
The experience she gained through her volunteer work also allowed her to “get a foot in the door” for other work. Caitlin is now working part-time as a music administrator for the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch. She is also a founding member and vice president of the 40-strong Christchurch Youth Choir which performs regularly.
Since the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes the CSO has been performing in a number of venues including the Air Force Museum of NZ in Wigram.
A large space, which usually houses aircraft, the venue is set up from scratch each time the CSO performs including setting out and labelling up to 800 seats. A dedicated group led by seventy-one-year old, retired statistician Philippa Graham take on that task.
A double bass player for a community orchestra, Philippa says the group all have an appreciation for orchestral music and want to do their bit to help the CSO succeed despite it losing rehearsal and performance spaces as a result of the earthquakes.
Philippa says being involved with the orchestra has allowed her to remain active and make a contribution to her community.
“People in retirement can indulge their interests and I think art and music are important to the well-being of our society,” said Philippa.
The volunteers are regarded as part of the CSO family. “We rely on them heavily, especially when we are in venues that are not originally designed for concerts and we have to set up from scratch,” said CSO Marketing Manager, Michelle Walsh.
“Our audience love and enjoy the interaction they have with our young Concert Hosts and our Air Force Museum seat labellers have developed a much more involved engagement with our orchestra and other music lovers”.