Vailima concert pays tribute to Robert Louis Stevenson

Australian couple Judy Turno and Neil Adam performed a concert at the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum recently where they paid tribute to the late author.

Judy, who specialises in ukulele and violin, and guitarist, Neil, who’s also a singer and songwriter, delivered an emotional show based on Robert Stevenson’s life. 

More than 50 people attended the one-hour concert. It was the first of its kind to be held in Samoa commemorating the life of the author. 

Neil used the poem collection of Stevenson to compose and record an album with his own music.  Neil, who has Scottish roots, said his family’s passion for the poet’s work was the reason he became a fan and started following his work. 

 “I inherited a meter and a half of Robert Louis Stevenson books, so I just have been reading through them and I learnt that in his poetry is the story of his life,” he said.

 “It was lovely singing his poetry in his house to an interested mixed audience (locals and tourists).”

R.L.S. Museum President, James S. Winegar, said he was pleased to have the musicians perform in the museum.

 “It’s been very comfortable and intimate. I am so glad we didn’t miss it because it was just wonderful. These talented musicians, they aren’t just street musicians but professionals it sounds like an orchestra even just the two of them.

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 “They basically told Stevenson’s life story with music starting from when he was young. We had a whole hour focused on the author. I was emotional and there is something about this place, the spirit of Tusitala is here even mentioned by others saying feeling peace coming up the hill.

 “I am so happy to have this place to showcase that R.L.S. is even more famous outside of Samoa than probably in Samoa. This place as a tourist destination has its own life,” Mr. Winegar said. 

Neil said the only reason he came to Samoa was because of Stevenson and it is important to let the world know about him. 

 “We live with R.L.S. every day and I wished more people could have felt that spirit at the concert,” Mr. Winegar said.

“Stevenson came and he humanised the people because he loved them. That was special and he expressed it in so many ways in his writing and behaviour. It is such a tribute after all these years to have people still having that passion.” 

Mr. Winegar mentioned their intention to recruit a lecturer to encourage students on writing and expressing their stories through poetry.

 “The concert has been very important not only for us but especially for the national university students. So they could see it is very important not only for us in Samoa but people from all over the world,” Museum’s General Manager, Margaret Silva said. 

 “They got to know that R.L.S. life is very important. We felt the passion and love for Stevenson and are very pleased to have these people here.” 

The couple has left Samoa and will perform at Stevenson’s house in Scotland.

According to Mr. Winegar, they were skeptical at first because from previous experiences they had a lot of people using Vailima for their commercial purposes, which wasn’t the case this time.

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