Occasionally in order for something beautiful to exist, we must endure tragedy. It is exactly this philosophy which inspired the initial creation of the Concert For Life event in 2015, and its subsequent return this year. Concert For Life is a rare special event which coincides with World Suicide Prevention Day and will see some of Australia’s leading musicians come together for a very special concert at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music to raise funds for the Westerman Jilya Institute For Indigenous Mental Health in order to prevent Indigenous suicide.
Created by conductor Roger Benedict after he was personally touched by suicide when his god-son took his own life at the age of 24. From that moment on Benedict has been dedicated to helping raise much-needed funds and awareness.
“After the first concert, so many people spoke to me about their own stories and experiences with suicide. It has touched so many people, I’m sure everybody knows someone who has been affected,” explained Benedict.
This year Benedict and his Concert For Life organising committee have set their focus on the plight of suicide in Indigenous communities. This decision was made after Benedict discovered the heartbreaking statistics around Indigenous suicide.
“When we looked at all of the figures and realised that the figures for the Indigenous population are so shocking, 40% of child deaths in those communities are by suicide and the percentage fo youth suicide rose from 10% in 1991 to 80% in 2012, we knew that had to be our focus because you can hardly comprehend those figures.”
Whilst the first Concert For Life event in 2015 was incredibly touching for those involved and successful in terms of fundraising, the event raised $40,000 in 2015, logistically it was impossible to make it an annual event. For Benedict and the team behind Concert For Life, these events are so taxing because they bring together so many different groups, who wouldn’t normally cross paths. This rarity though adds to the experience for all of the musicians involved.
“Even though all of these musicians work in the same city they often don’t see each other. So it’s a real pleasure for them to play together, especially for a cause that they all believe in. There is a completely different feeling on stage when these groups come together to make music at the highest level but also for a wonderful shared cause.”
For the audience, Benedict hopes this special feeling translates, “Concert For Life is more than just beautiful music in a concert setting. When you listen to this music in this particular context it becomes a more profound experience.”
All of the funds from this year’s Concert For Life will be donated to the Westerman Jilya Institute For Indigenous Mental Health in order to fund scholarships which will be used to train Indigenous psychologists.
“Every $10,000 we raise pays for a scholarship for a young Indigenous person to complete their training as a psychologist before going out into the community,” said Benedict, “We focused on finding a program which was going to have a tangible impact on suicide prevention in Indigenous communities and this program allows us to see the link between the concert and the person who has been helped by the physiologist that we helped to train. This is going to be something which has an impact for many many years.”
Sep 10. Verbrugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium Of Music, 1 Conservatorium Rd, Sydney. $99-$125+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.concertforlife.com.au