Mon, Jul 28, 2008 - Page 13 News List

Singers lend paw of support to seeing-eye dogs

Taiwan currently suffers from a shortage of seeing-eye dogs. Proceeds from a charity concert on Thursday will go towards alleviating that scarcity

By Catherine Shu  /  STAFF REPORTER

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Australian a cappella group The Idea of North will give a special charity concert on Thursday to support the training of seeing-eye dogs in Taiwan. The Taipei Philharmonic Foundation and the Australian Commerce and Industry Office are organizing the concert, which benefits the Taiwan Guide Dog Association.

Taiwan, which has an estimated 50,000 visually-impaired people, currently suffers from a shortage of seeing-eye dogs. The Association estimates that there are just 20 trained guide dogs in the country, while at least 500 guide dogs are currently needed. Many people wait up to three years to get a four-legged helper of their own. To meet the demand, trained dogs are often brought in from countries including the US, the UK, Norway, South Korea and Japan.

The funds raised by the concert will contribute to the building of a seeing-eye dog training center in Taiwan, which will give the Association a safe and convenient place to train the dogs. “At the present, all we have is an office, so we have to train our dogs on the sidewalk or in parks,” says Joyce Feng (馮倩華), the Association’s spokesperson.

The group also hopes that eventually it will be able to increase the number of dog trainers in Taiwan and deepen their expertise. At the present, Feng says, the Association’s dog trainers must travel internationally and learn how to work with the dogs from instructors in different countries.

The concert by The Idea of North is part of the Taipei International Choral Festival, which runs from July 26 to Aug. 2 at the National Concert Hall and is sponsored by the Taipei Philharmonic Foundation. The quartet has been performing original songs and covers since 1993, and its cross-genre style combines influences from jazz, folk, gospel, pop and classical music.

PERFORMANCE NOTES:

WHAT: The Idea of North, in

collaboration with the Australian Commerce and Industry Office and Taipei Philharmonic Foundation, for the Taiwan Guide Dog Association

WHEN:Thursday, 7:30pm

WHERE: National Concert Hall

(國家音樂廳), 21-2, Zhongshan S Rd, Taipei City (台北市中山南路21-1號 )

TICKETS: Tickets range from NT$500 to NT$2,000 each and are available at

www.artsticket.com.tw

ON THE WEB:Taipei International Choral Festival www.tpf.org.tw/2008festival/index.html; The Idea of North www.idea.com.au; Australian Commerce and Industry Office www.australia.org.tw; Taiwan Guide Dog

Association www.guidedog.org.tw


The Idea of North, which consists of Trish Delaney Brown, Naomi Crelin, Nick Begbie and Andrew Piper, has produced several albums and was the first group outside the US to win The Harmony Sweepstakes, the largest international a cappella competition in the world. The group’s latest CD is The Gospel Project, a collection of spiritual and inspirational songs. The Idea of North tours for about a third of each year and has performed in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Finland, the US, New Zealand, Japan, Korea and Malaysia.

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