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Pianists perform classics to help feed hungry children in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

The 25th Piano Benefit Concert takes place Monday, Feb. 27
Performers at this years Piano Benefit Concert are: (from left) Samuel Somogyi, Payten Whittome, Daniel Hai, Tabea Hall, Andrew Croswell, Abigail Takenaka, and Julia Zhang. Seated on bench are Michael Xue, left, and Anna Guo. (Special to The News)

Franz Joseph Haydn and Fryderyk Chopin are among six classical composers who will be featured in the upcoming 25th annual Piano Benefit Concert.

Not only is the concert an opportunity for advanced students of Maple Ridge composer, producer, and instructor, Dan Wardrope, to perform in front of a live audience – the concert also raises money for a different charity every year.

This year the students will be raising money for the Starfish Pack Program.

The evening of music will feature the music of: Hungarian composer Franz Liszt; French composer Achille Claude Debussy; Russian-American composer Sergei Rachmaninoff; Czech Austro-Hungarian composer Antonin Leopold Dvorak; Haydn, an Austrian composer; and Polish composer Chopin.

Performers will include: Andrew Croswell, Payten Whittome, Julia Zhang, Michael Xue, Tabea Hall, Abigail Takenaka, Daniel Hai, Anna Guo, and Samuel Somogyi.

“This will be the first post pandemic concert and so everyone is looking forward to it,” said Wardrope, noting that while last year the students had opportunities to perform in front of a live audience, this will be the biggest concert that his advanced students will perform in as a collective group since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Performing for a live audience creates a unique sort of energy and allows these musicians to share their gifts with other people,” added Wardrope.

Each musician – including two 12-year-olds, a 13-year-old, two 16-year-olds, a 17-year-old, and three adult students – will introduce the piece they will be performing with interesting information about the composer and the selection itself.

The music will be performed in chronological order from the time period the pieces originated from.

Since the inaugural Piano Benefit Concert in 1998, more than $30,000 has been raised for various charities including Maple Ridge Food Bank, BC Cancer Foundation, World Vision, Hope International Development Agency and the Starfish Pack Program – this years recipient.

The Meadow Ridge Rotary Starfish Pack Program sends food home for the weekend for children in need during the school year.

Every week volunteers fill backpacks with two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners, and snacks and then deliver them to local schools. The students return the empty backpacks the following week to be refilled the following weekend.

The program started in 2013 as a pilot project with six backpacks as a response to an Abbotsford teacher’s cry for help when she found herself feeding her kindergarten students who were coming to school on Monday hungry.

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It started in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows in 2016.

The program almost stopped running at the end of 2022. But a $15,000 donation from Prospera Credit Union kept it running.

Program chair Ineke Boekhorst noted that the amount of hungry students the program helps each week has significantly increased.

Currently the program serves 250 Starfish Packs every week at 23 schools in the district. Boekhorst said in order to make it to the end of the 2023 school year and start up again in September, the program needs an additional $40,000 to $50,000.

The 25th Piano Benefit Concert will take place on Monday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m. in the Studio Theatre at The ACT Arts Centre, 11944 Haney Place, Maple Ridge.

Tickets are $18 including all service charges and will include refreshments at the intermission.

“People are encouraged to order tickets as soon as possible as this event has sold out each year,” noted Wardrope.

For more information or to order tickets go to or call 604-476-2787.

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Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

I got my start with Black Press Media in 2003 as a photojournalist.
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