MONTSE Benitez, wife of former Liverpool FC manager Rafa, has said she felt compelled to find a way to support Autism Together after seeing the work the Wirral-based charity carries out in the region.
The Benitez family has partnered with Autism Together to host a classical music concert at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall on 16 June.
Proceeds from the concert, which will feature familiar classics including the roof-raising Carmina Burana and Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, will go to the charity’s Future 50 appeal. This is raising funds to build a pioneering autism centre in the region.
Montse, who has lived in Wirral for 15 years, said that her family feels connected to Autism Together because of its Wirral roots and because she and Rafa have had first-hand experience of autism. She said: “We think that my great aunt was probably on the spectrum. She lived like a recluse, but not enough was known then to help her.
“Rafa and I also have very close friends with a son on the spectrum. He is an extreme case and we have watched over the years the terrible pressure this has put on the family.
“I have watched the great work that Autism Together does. So many people are helped and it is clear that the staff who work at the charity really care.”
Montse added that classical music was close to her heart and that it felt natural to help organise a concert as a fundraising event. She was born into a musical family and had played classical guitar until a decade ago when a finger injury meant that was no-longer possible. Since then she has focused on piano and is now at grade eight.
She said: “We want our concert to appeal to absolutely everyone, so we’ve chosen three pieces of music that are very popular. I chose the Tchaikovsky piece (Piano concerto one) because I’ve loved it since I was a child. My uncle used to teach piano and our family had an album of classical music for children which included it.
“And composer Orff’s Carmina Burana is so powerful. It has been used in so many adverts that people recognise it instantly the moment they hear it.”
Performing the famous classics will be the North West England Orchestra and Choir, alongside soloists Roderick Barrand, Isla McKewan, Richard Pollock and Alastair McCall. Renowned conductor Russell Medley, who has performed across the world, will be leading the musicians and singers.
Rick Myers, fundraising officer at Autism Together, said: “I am absolutely delighted to have Rafa and Montse’s support with our event. It will feature the most passionate music that will be familiar to many even if they are not regular classical music fans.”
Autism Together’s Future 50 appeal, launched in 2018, the charity’s 50th anniversary year, will fund the creation of an autism crisis centre and an out-patient diagnosis clinic for all ages. Both these services are desperately needed in the North-West.
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