By GUY WILLIAMS
A band of talented youngsters who live with Tourette Syndrome are the headline act at a unique concert in Arrowtown tomorrow afternoon.
The free ‘Neuro-Cool Music Concert’ at Arrowtown’s Athenaeum Hall features The Lunatics, a five-piece group of young Kiwis in their teens and early 20s who have the syndrome, which is a genetic neurological disorder characterised by repetitive, involuntary vocalisations and movements.
Formed in 2018, it consists of Analise Twemlow, Ava Thornley, Ethan Downey-Parish, Connor Zampese and Hannah Allen, who live in different parts of the country but frequently come together to perform.
The increasingly-famous five, who get respite from their tics through their music and performing, met at Camp Twitch, a holiday camp run by the Tourette’s Association of New Zealand.
The second half of tomorrow’s concert, which is sponsored by Queenstown music school Turn Up The Music Trust and the Hugo Trust, will feature local musician Mark Wilson and performers from Alexandra-based charity Central Otago Living Options, which provides services for people with intellectual disabilities.
Turn Up The Music trustee Sue Marshall says it’s been talking to The Lunatics — who play a mix of their own compositions and covers — about coming to the Whakatipu since last year.
‘‘They are just brilliant — they’ve done lots of shows throughout NZ.
‘‘They’re wonderful young musicians, so hopefully lots of people will come along and have some fun.’’
The performance by the Central Otago Living Options members will serve as a ‘‘wonderful introduction for them to the Arrowtown and Queenstown communities’’, Marshall says.
The trust was keen to give the members, who have neurally-diverse conditions, an opportunity to perform in public.
‘‘It gives them confidence to perform, and it allows the community to embrace and understand the challenges they’ve got.’’
The members come to Arrowtown regularly, and their visits will be further enhanced as a result of Central Otago Living Options getting a $100,000 grant that it’s using to fit out a Nairn Street house for their use.
It’s leasing the house from Queenstown’s council for a peppercorn rental.
Central Otago Living Options ops manager Olivia Wildey says at least 10 of its members, from throughout the Whakatipu and Central Otago, will perform tomorrow.
Singing and dancing to backing tracks, they’ll range in age from a four-year-old girl to people in their 30s.
‘‘Music is a huge part of their lives,’’ Wildey says.
‘‘They just go for it.’’
The Arrowtown community’s been highly supportive of its members.
‘‘We’re just so happy we’ll be there to say thank you and perform.’’
The Lunatics’ Neuro-Cool Music Concert, free, tomorrow, 4pm till 6pm, Arrowtown Athenaeum Hall