Four years ago violinist Jo Watts, wanted to do something amazing for her 40th birthday and like most of us her first thought was a trip to Las Vegas.
Instead, however, Jo (pictured above) went looking for a more selfless experience which would combine her love of music and art with helping children somewhere in the world.
Through a friend she found a charity called Their Lives Matter, based in Tanzania, which is transforming the lives of some of the country’s poorest children, stricken with cancer.
Leaving her partner, Chris Fish, behind in Thornton Heath looking after their two children Herbie (pictured right) and Maimi, Jo set off to Tanzania for a month.
Jo said: “It was an unbelievable experience, and the minute I was back home I knew I had to both raise money for the charity and plan my next trip out there but this time with Chris and the kids.”
Over five year’s later after raising tens of thousands for the charity with Chris, a professional cellist, the couple are staging a classical fundraising concert on Sunday February 11 at 7.30pm at St John’s the Evangelist Church, Sylvan Road, Upper Norwood.
The concert will feature players from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the English National Opera, the RTE National Symphony Orchestra the English Chamber Orchestra, the Tippett Quartet, and the new American musical Hamilton.
In 2013, the couple organised a Gradeoneathon where musicians countrywide and some across the globe took a Grade 1 on another instrument. It really captured the imagination of musicians across Britain and raised thousands for the charity.
“The musicians were all sponsored and it was a huge success,” said Jo. “We even had the bass player from Madness doing his Grade 1 Tuba and the world famous classical guitarist Milos Karadaglic taking his singing exam.
“There were principle players from all the London orchestras picking up other instruments for their exams. We raised £30,000!”
Jo added: “Then we went back to Tanzania with the funds and stayed for six weeks. We worked in the ward with the children and also at a children’s home out in the middle of no-where. Chris and I gave concerts for the ex pats there, always raising money wherever we went. We’re going back this summer and just can not wait.”
This incredible charity has not only sent local cancer survival rates skyrocketing through brand new treatment facilities, expertise and medical supplies, but given those kids laughter and fresh hope through entertainment and education.
Now the couple hope to raise even more for this amazing cause with the February concert which sees the creation of a specially assembled chamber orchestra – Palace Virtuosi.
This will feature a stellar cast of soloists, who will perform some of the best loved string repertoire in the beautiful setting of St John’s, which is also home to the London Mozart Players.
The program includes Vivaldi’s Winter from the Four Seasons and Tchaikovsky’s ravishing Serenade for Strings.
Each musician is giving their time completely free of charge, so every single penny goes to Their Lives Matter in Tanzania.
So why not enjoy a wonderful evening with some of the finest musicians in the country playing your favourite music, have a glass of wine, and help an extraordinary cause that is changing young lives.
Tickets £15 at the door or online at www.goldengiving.com/eventpalacevirtuosi or if you can’t make it and you’d like to donate to TLM, you can do it here: www.wearetlm.org