Rhinegold

Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Benefit concert to support ALS sufferer

2:40, 15th March 2017

A star-studded benefit concert will be given on 8 April 2017 to help raise money to support New Zealand opera singer Anna Leese’s family following her husband’s diagnosis of ALS, an aggressive form of motor neurone disease.

The concert – Singing for Stefano – will take place at 7pm on 8 April at Barbican’s Milton Court, and will be hosted by Sir Thomas Allen.

The event aims to raise £25,000 and will be hosted by renowned baritone Sir Thomas Allen, with singers including Sophie Bevan, Sarah Castle, Alisdair Hogarth, Jacques Imbrailo, David Butt Philip, Jennifer Johnston, Madeleine Pierard and Wendy Dawn Thompson accompanied by Bryan Evans, Alisdair Hogarth, Gary Matthewman and Lada Valesova.

Stefano was diagnosed with ALS last year, shortly before the birth of their son, and has been given two years to live. He is already facing a number of challenges, which require great emotional, physical and financial support.

The soprano has been writing about her family’s journey here. She said of the appeal: ‘We are very lucky to have such kind and generous friends and colleagues who sympathise with our situation and want to help. Life has already become difficult for us, but we know we are going to face much tougher times ahead, in many ways.

‘Funds raised by friends enable us to have options for Stefano’s treatment and for him to see his family regularly over the coming months – which is life changing. We can’t thank all of you enough.’

Patrons of the appeal include Sir Thomas Allen, José Carreras and Sir Vernon Ellis.

‘Anna’s musical family is coming together to demonstrate its love and support as she and Stefano go through this difficult time, said Sir Thomas Allen. ‘We are determined to do all we can to help them have the resources in place to be able to face the consequences of this terrible disease. We are all looking forward to participating in a concert which promises to deliver some wonderful music making.’

The concert will be dedicated to the theme of love. The first half will focus on Lieder, with highlights including Jennifer Johnston performing ‘Liebst du um Schönheit’ from Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder; Thomas Allen singing ‘Limehouse Reach’ by Michael Head; Jacques Imbrailo performing ‘Morgen’ by Richard Strauss; and the company singing Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music.

The second half celebrates opera and features Sophie Bevan performing ‘V’adoro, pupille’ from Handel’s Giulio Caesare; Thomas Allen singing ‘Donne mie’ from Così fan tutte by Mozart; and Jennifer Johnston performing ‘Amour! Viens aider ma faiblesse!’ from Saint-Saëns’ Samson et Dalila.

Tickets cost £25-£50, and are available here.

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