Nordoff Robbins

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Happy Birthday Alfie!

Your amazing fans wanted to wish you a happy birthday so from all of us we hope you have a wonderful day!

All the birthday messages are on the Birthday Messages to Alfie page

As he has done for the last five years, Alfie is using his birthday to fund raise for Nordoff Robbins –

if you haven’t yet donated, click here to do so

if you haven’t yet left Alfie a message, don’t depair, leave a comment and I’ll update the birthday messages

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September is over half way through and that means that it is nearly Alfie Boe’s birthday!  Yes, on September 29th, Alfie will be 43…and getting younger every year!

If you would like to post Alfie a birthday message, pop it in the form below and it will be featured on a new Message to Alfie page next week:

This video is from the Classic BRIT awards in 2013 and I chose this video as it was just a few days past Alfie’s birthday and a group of fans were there to see this breathtaking performance and give him our own birthday card.  Amazingly, he then tweeted a thank you alongside a picture of the card…still gives me goosebumps thinking about it now.

Definitely one of my top Alfie moments!

This year, as he has done for the previous five years, Alfie is fundraising for music charity Nordoff Robbins in honour of his birthday (click here to find out more about the charity). Overall, Alfie fans have raised over £8600 and of this year’s fundraiser, Nordoff Robbins CEO, Julie Whelan, said

We are thrilled that our long-standing ambassador Alfie has chosen to dedicate his birthday to us at Nordoff Robbins again this year. This initiative has raised crucial funds for our services and has really helped to raise awareness of our work over the years. Alfie first started supporting Nordoff Robbins in 2011 and we are so proud to be able to say that we have his continued support to this day.

If you would like to donate something to celebrate Alfie’s birthday, click here to go through to Nordoff Robbins – you can choose Alfie Boe as a reason for donating.  Let’s see if we can raise more than the £1719 we raised last year!  Go Alfie Boe fans!

Don’t forget there’s still time to enter our competition to win a Sunflower Jam DVD featuring Alfie singing I Wanna Know What Love Is and othersclick here to enter.

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This week sees the highlight of the UK music awards season, the BRIT awards.  The event will be shown live on Wednesday and viewers will be able to download and stream all the audio performances.  These downloads will be free to the viewer as Google Play picks up the costs and donates the money to the BRITS official charity partner which this year is the music therapy charity, Nordoff Robbins.  Last years charity, Warchild, received £250k so lets hope that the same (or more!) is raised for one of Alfie Boe’s official charities.

Ahead of this exciting time for Nordoff Robbins, I caught up with CEO Julie Whelan to talk about how being the official charity partner of the BRITS will help them.  The charity have a long standing relationship with the BRIT Trust and the BPI, going back to the 1991 fundraising concert at Knebworth and the set up of the BRIT school which led to extra funding for Nordoff Robbins.  Since then, the BPI and the BRIT Trust have been ongoing supporters of Nordoff Robbins.  This year, much to Julie’s delight, the BPI very much wanted to highlight the work that Nordoff do and asked them to become the official charity partner of the 2016 BRIT awards.  As Julie says, this is doubly brilliant as Nordoff is not a charity that “instantly springs to mind.  When I first started work with Nordoff I sometimes asked unsuspecting members of the public if they knew who we were and they mostly thought we were a sewing organisation or sold ice cream”! Actually, the following video shows what they do – be warned, you might have something in your eye by the end!

Going forward from 2016, Julie says that Nordoff are currently expanding the services they offer and moving into new areas which have never, until now, been able to access music therapy services and it is this that will be spearheaded by the, hopefully large, influx of funds from the BRIT awards.  Services are currently provided from the main centre in North London, the Andrew Lloyd Webber centre at the BRIT school and via a myriad of therapists who travel to NHS centres, prisons, special schools and mental health trusts to name just a few.  Over the next eighteen months or so, Nordoff is committed to expanding into Wales, Yorkshire and the North East of England as well as committing to providing services in all London boroughs.  Julie emphasised that Nordoff often “works with people in the most isolated and vulnerable settings, those who need it most” and that the expected donations from Google Play this week will enable the much needed regional expansion to happen.

So, being the official charity partner of the BRITS is of huge significance to an otherwise small charity especially when you consider that they receive no government funding at all.  Day to day running costs are funded through a number of fundraising events, corporate fundraising events and partnerships and donations from the public.  Of course, I asked Julie about the importance of Nordoff’s celebrity ambassadors and what they bring to the charity and this is what Julie had to say about Alfie.  “Alfie Boe is someone who gives his time to support us and also, through his fans he brings a whole new set of people who are aware of Nordoff Robbins and what we do.  Having that has made us much more confident as a charity”.  The use of Alfie’s birthday each year to encourage fans to donate to Nordoff has meant more than £8,000 raised over the last five years; Alfie said  “I’m overwhelmed with the generosity shown by fans who have donated to Nordoff Robbins. I’m passionate about music education and therapy and I really appreciate every single donation.”

Alfie of course is not the only ambassador for Nordoff who makes a difference; soprano Laura Wright regularly attends fundraising events throughout the year and makes regular trips to the centre to observe music therapy sessions and engage with clients.  Interestingly, not all the official ambassadors are from world of music.  Two such are presenter Gaby Roslin, host of the Silver Clef Awards for the last few years and England cricketer, Jimmy Anderson.  Having two ambassadors outside the music world is great for Nordoff as Julie explains: “Although they are not musicians, both are connected with the importance of music and having them give their time raises awareness of our work…Jimmy Anderson gives a lot of support at corporate events and Gaby Roslin gives us as much airtime as she can.  She is very interested in the work that we do with families.”

So, with all that in mind, get ready to watch the BRIT awards on Wednesday and download the live performances via Google Play!

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Celebrities these days usually have a number of charities which they support and Alfie Boe is no exception.  Many of his charities are long standing associations and one of these is the music therapy charity, Nordoff Robbins.  Alfie became an ambassador for Nordoff Robbins in November 2011 following his win of the PPL Classical Award at the 2011 Nordoff Robbins O2 Silver Clef Awards. His ambassadorship was launched alongside the 2011 Christmas appeal which he spearheaded.  Since then, Alfie has dedicated his birthday to the charity and his fans have responded with enthusiasm, raising the huge amount of £8605 in five years.  Wow! Click here to see what that means for the charity.  In response to this amazing effort from fans, Alfie said “Once again I’m overwhelmed with the generosity shown by fans who have donated to Nordoff Robbins in honour of my birthday. I’m passionate about music education and therapy and I really appreciate every single donation. It’s the best birthday present ever”.

So, who are Nordoff Robbins?  Although the fundraising charity is now celebrating it’s fortieth year, the foundations of the therapy itself go back to 1959 when Paul Nordoff, an American composer and pianist and Clive Robbins, a special education teacher first developed collaborative music making which they termed ‘therapy in music’. Over the next fifteen years, this therapy was developed and delivered all over the world with the first centre opening in South London in 1970.  Programmes for adults began in the latter part of this era.  Since then, the charity has grown and grown and is now the largest single music therapy organisation in the UK, dedicated to transforming the lives of vulnerable and isolated people.  Although Alfie’s special area of interest is providing music therapy and education for children, this is by no means the only group to be helped.  People with dementia, depression, terminal or chronic illnesses and people with brain injuries are also amongst the recipients of the specialist therapy available.  In some cases, music therapy is part of palliative care.  In addition, the families and communities of those who receive therapy are also helped,  thus ensuring a broad reach approach.

As if all this wasn’t enough, Nordoff Robbins also delivers Masters of Music Therapy (MMT) training in both London and Manchester as well as accessible training and short course programmes for people who want to learn more about music therapy.

In order to provide these services, the charity relies on fundraising efforts from individuals and events such as the Silver Clef Awards and the Music Industry Trust Awards.  In 2016, Nordoff Robbins are the official charity partner for the BRIT Awards, held on 24 February.  Free downloads of the live performances will be available on the night, with Google Play Music  donating the costs to the charity.  Last year’s charity received £250,000!

Click here to find out more about Nordoff Robbins and here to find out more about Google Play Music at the BRIT Awards.

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A week into December and as we draw closer to the end of the year, I thought it would be a good idea to see how much money the fans have raised for Nordoff Robbins in aid of Alfie Boe’s birthday.  Since the fundraiser opened in September, you wonderful fans have raised £1719 (at the time of writing).  That’s fantastic!

Since we all deserve a pat on the back for raising such a great amount for one of Alfie’s named charities, here’s Alfie from the UK tour last year:

If you haven’t yet donated and want to do so, the birthday page for Alfie is open until 31 December.

Whether you have donated or not, you might well ask yourself where your money goes to.  What does my £10 donation actually do?  Well, wonder no more as I asked the lovely folk at Nordoff Robbins how the money raised is used and this is what they said:

£32 pays for one music therapy session

£10 pays for an instrument to be used in music therapy sessions

£50 pays for someone with learning difficulties to attend music therapy for a half term

£100 pays for six children with learning difficulties to attend a music therapy session

In real terms, Alfie Boe fans have, this year alone, paid for the equivalent of 53 music therapy sessions or 17 groups of six children to attend a music therapy group.  That’s impressive enough but the total amount of money raised by Alfie fans since 2011 is £6885 – add that to this year’s total and we get a whopping £8604!!!!!

£8604 means Nordoff Robbins has been able to provide 268 music therapy sessions over the last five years – amazing.

Now, if you are someone who hasn’t yet donated and thinks that your few pounds won’t make any difference, I hope this shows you that small donations mount up into big donations and huge fundraising goals achieved. Thoughtsofjustafan will also be looking at Alfie and Nordoff Robbins in more depth next year.

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It’s that time again…Alfie Boe will be 42 on 29 September and as usual, he’s celebrating by fundraising for Nordoff Robbins.  For the fifth year running, Alfie Boe’s birthday focuses the spotlight on the music therapy charity, for which he has been an ambassador since 2011.  Alfie says

I am delighted to donate my birthday to music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins for the fifth year running! As an Ambassador for Nordoff Robbins I have seen first-hand how music therapy helps people in ways that sometimes nothing else can! I want to thank all of my wonderful friends, family and fans for your ongoing generosity and support. I am very proud to be associated with such a wonderful group of people who feel as passionately as I do about the power of music!

The target Alfie wants to reach is £1,000 which going on past years seems eminently possible (surely we can surpass this?) and fans can leave messages for Alfie on the site.

Alfie is a keen supporter when he’s in London and earlier this year, he accompanied the Nordoff Robbins choir at Somerset House (thanks Nikki for sharing):

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Buona Sera at a Salt Lake City fundraiser for the Utah Children’s Center, a charity only recently added to his increasing portfolio.

Alfie originally came to be involved with the centre through a childhood friend of his wife, Sarah. The Communications Director, Courtney Garay tells us more: “Sarah Boe’s childhood friend [a supporter of the centre] reached out to Alfie and Sarah to share her passion for The Children’s Center and they were kind enough to take a tour. From that moment, they both offered to help spread our mission; provide comprehensive mental health care to enhance the emotional well-being of infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and their families.”  In addition, Courtney told us that Alfie had helped to procure musical instruments for the children in the musical therapy programme, a cause he has a multitude of experience with through his connection with Nordoff Robbins.

Back to Buona Sera – at that point, we had heard a couple of songs from Serenata the week before when Alfie sang at another charity event, Symfunny, in aid of Parkinson’s UK but Buona Sera was not amongst them.  Thanks to Marcia for sharing:

Serenata is Alfie Boe’s eighth album and is available here:

serenata

For more information on how to support The Children’s Center, Utah, click here.

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Recently, I have been listening to the upcoming orchestral version of Pete Townshend’s Quadrophenia before reviewing it here in the run up to the album release in June.  It sounds fabulous, especially the vocals which sound as if they were recorded from a live performance and not in the studio (even though they were) and I discussed this with Alfie when I interviewed him this week.

The interview actually started with both of us saying “hello”, “hello, can you hear me” type of thing as he was on the move and I was sitting in the playground of my son’s school.  I was there to do some fundraising for the specialist music education required by the National Curriculum; as Alfie is well aware, given his recent comments on the state of music education in the UK, schools legally have to provide music education but are given no funding.  This often means that music education is not as healthy as it should be.   The conversation then turned to Nordoff Robbins and the music therapy and rehabilitation programmes they run which also have no central government funding at all.  Alfie would like to see some funding set aside to subsidise the therapies available but doesn’t seem too confident that this will actually happen.

Now, as we were there to talk about Classic Quadrophenia, I started by asking how long he had been involved with the project as it was only about six months ago that the fans became aware of his participation.  Alfie said that he came on board about “a year ago.  I was asked to go and sing for Pete, to see if I had the right sound for the project”.  Obviously, the answer was a resounding yes and Alfie went on to spend two days in the studio with the orchestra.  The vocals heard on the album were then recorded in Pete Townshend’s own studio in (Alfie’s words) “a good few hours.  The sound is almost like a live recording of my vocals as it was really flowing, we were really in the groove”.  I asked Alfie how difficult it was to sing and although some parts are trickier than others, the most difficult for him was getting the emotional intensity right.  “It’s an emotional piece and you have to understand what you are singing and the emotional intent behind it and then you’re alright”.  I should say that he’s got the emotional intensity spot on as it’s a very powerful album.  Look out for the review in the next couple of weeks.

Although this was a brief phone interview, I did ask about Les Mis on Broadway , telling him that my readers would never forgive me if I didn’t ask about that!  (That got a chuckle and he’s clearly thrilled by all the good wishes sent his way).  Alfie said that he has always been interested in doing Broadway as it would finish off his Jean ValJean story nicely – 25th anniversary concert, West End run and then Broadway.  When asked why now, his answer was that it’s all down to timing.  It wasn’t the right time before but it is now – simple as that.  Oh, and he mentioned that he is scheduled to be performing in the show until February but please do check the website as there are some dates he’s not doing.  Incidentally, he won’t be in the show for these dates as he’s doing Classic Quadrophenia elsewhere:

13 October – Cologne

26 October – Munich

31 October – Vienna

Click here for tickets.

There might be more news but I can’t tell you about it yet!  In the meantime, here’s Alfie singing Love Reign O’er Me on his recent UK tour:

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And it’s a lucky 13th for Alfie Boe’s US fans – now we know that the gap in Alfie’s schedule later this year is because he’s returning to Les Mis…on Broadway!  His first performance is 1 September, following Ramin Karimloo’s departure on 30 August.  Anyone from the UK made travel plans yet?

Also, this week, we saw another video from Pete Townshend promoting the forthcoming Classic Quadrophenia – although we see Alfie briefly, we also hear him all the way through:

Lastly, Alfie was in the news following an interview he gave at the Nordoff Robbins choir event a few weeks ago, regarding music education in the UK.  As befits a newly appointed patron of the BD Music Hub, Alfie talked about the need for more investment in music education in the UK.  As it happens, I know a fair amount about this very subject as I am currently heavily involved in raising funds for specialist music education at my son’s primary school.  The national curriculum requires all schools to provide music education but does not give them any money with which to provide this education.  Hence my son’s school pledges to raise £15,000 each year to fund a part time specialist teacher – it’s hard work so anyone highlighting this issue gets a big thank you from me!  Click here to read the article.

Don’t forget to watch Alfie at the VE 70 celebrations tomorrow evening – 8.30pm UK time!

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An exciting week – three more events added to the Alfie Boe Upcoming Events page!  One of them has already been and gone (more of that shortly) but the other two are an outdoor concert in Swansea on 21 June and Chris Evans announced yesterday that Alfie will take part in the VE Day 70 Celebrations in London on 9 May.

The first new event took place today in the courtyard of Somerset House, London and saw Alfie sing with the Nordoff Robbins choir and Miel de Botton.  In his role as Nordoff Robbins Ambassador, Alfie sang a couple of songs (Oh When The Saints and Enjoy Yourself) with the choir and acted as cheerleader in chief for the remainder of the performance.  Luckily, Nikki Lewis was on hand to record the first song – thanks Nikki:

Afterwards, I caught up with him for a few minutes and talk turned to this blog – imagine my face when Alfie said that he loves it and that he reads it every day!  We also talked about how he broke my twitter account over Easter when he tweeted me…that produced a giggle or two!  Thanks for the compliment Alfie, much appreciated.

Alfie Somerset House

If you haven’t yet joined the official facebook fan group, what are you waiting for?  Alfie told me today that he’s really keen for everyone to be part of it so come and join us – click here for more information.

For more information on how to support Nordoff Robbins, click here.

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