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Guitar donation brings students together for 'Abbey Road’ benefit concert

The Abbey Road Benefit Concert will take place at the GCVI Auditorium on Sunday at 7 p.m

Students at Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute (GCVI) are ready to ‘come together’ for a community benefit concert, on Sunday.

In 2021, the school's music department was thrilled to accept a donation of a Gibson Les Paul and a Fender Telecaster, valued at about $7,000.

Students will be performing the Beatles album, Abbey Road at the concert, where the guitars will be played for the first time, with special guest star, Guelph mayor Cam Guthrie, on drums.

GCVI music teacher Lane Osborne says this donation will have a big impact, on stage and off.

“We are excited to be able to play the guitars for the first time,” Osborne said.

More than 50 students will perform from GCVI’s guitar, voice, and strings classes as well as three drummers.

“The idea behind putting on a whole album for a live audience was the culmination of hard work on a final student project,” Osborne said.  

“But, as the process moved forward, we thought it would be a good idea to make a charitable connection with the final performance. After receiving this generous donation, we just want to pay it forward,” Osborne said.  

The guitar donors, Bob and Judy Taylor, have been regular volunteers at the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada, an organization dedicated to caring for unwanted, neglected or abused donkeys, and educates people about responsible animal stewardship. 

As a result, students at GCVI adopted an eight-year-old rescue donkey, ‘Ruby’ who, for a while, was the beloved mascot of the school’s music program.

"We wanted to say thank you for this incredibly generous donation, so we adopted Ruby," Osborne said.

As a sponsor, the school supported the care of Ruby through annual donations, and for about 100 other donkeys, mules and hinnies living at the sanctuary.

Ruby has since been adopted into a permanent home. But Osborne says she encourages her students to continue to show their support.

At the upcoming concert, Osborne says attendees are asked to ‘pay what they can.' All proceeds will support the sanctuary.

“I’m a big believer in having students learn that their talents can be used for more than just applause,” Osborne said.

“Based on the relationship with the donkey sanctuary, this was a way to say thank you since we have had such a positive interaction with them already.”

The school will receive the donated guitars in the next couple days before the performance.

GCVI music student Lucy Gouthro, says the decision to perform the Abbey Road album was almost unanimous.

“The guitar and vocal music classes brainstormed some ideas. Different albums were suggested, and then we voted. We got down to two, and then we ended up with Abbey Road,” Gouthro said.

“It’s really amazing because the guitars that were donated are the same models that were actually used in the original Abbey Road album. So, I’m so excited that we are able to use them for this concert.”

Music student, Amelia Avdoulos, says that before starting the project, she always loved the 1969 Beatles album.

“I was so happy we were doing Abbey Road. Through the process, we all wished that we could be part of every song, because they are all so much fun,” Avdoulos said.

“Putting the songs together and arranging the songs, it’s all been very rewarding. Last night when we did our group rehearsal, it was amazing to see it all come together.”

The Abbey Road Benefit Concert will take place at the GCVI Auditorium on Jan. 29 at 7 p.m.

Having the mayor join the concert is an added bonus for the students.

“I wanted to gain as much support as possible for the donkey sanctuary, and we knew that Mayor Cam was a drummer. We thought having him come out and be a part of this would maybe bring  more support in having more people come out to watch the show,” Osborne said.

“It adds the local celebrity factor.”

Osborne says it’s been rewarding to see her students’ musical abilities develop over the semester.

Gouthro says people can look forward to a great evening.  

“Our lighting and sound are very professional. The students have worked really hard, and the concert will be fun and entertaining,” Gouthro said.

Ultimately, Osborne says her students are doing something for a much-needed cause in their community.

“To see this as a teacher, this is the most rewarding thing,” Osborne said.

“They are using their talents for something bigger than themselves.”

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Barbara Latkowski

About the Author: Barbara Latkowski

Barbara graduated with a Masters degree in Journalism from Western University and has covered politics, arts and entertainment, health, education, sports, courts, social justice, and issues that matter to the community. She joined CambridgeToday in 2021
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