Cathedral premiere for musical partnership featuring NW dementia patients
An extraordinary musical partnership between a North West composer and people with dementia will reach a crescendo with a premiere at Manchester Cathedral next month.
A massed choir and musical ensemble will perform ‘So Many Beauties’ on the evening of Thursday April 6th, the climax of a project funded by the Arts Council and the charity Music in Hospitals known as ‘Adages’.
Project leader Holly Marland, who plays a West African harp known as a kora, wrote the piece during creative sessions in residential care homes and hospitals across the region. The sessions involved residents and patients singing, writing poetry, having creative conversations and improvising using percussion.
Singer, musician and composer Holly arranged and orchestrated these contributions for the concert, with the title drawn from a remark from a Polish lady with dementia as musicians played beside her bedside – ‘So Many Beauties’.
The dementia friendly concert will bring together singing groups from across Greater Manchester, including the Golden Voices choir for the over 50s, St George’s Singers in Poynton, Manchester Children’s Choir, the Carers’ Chorus (a choir of people caring for those with dementia) and members of BBC Radio 4’s Daily Service Singers.
The performance, starting at 7pm, also features Manchester Broadside Balladeer Jennifer Reid, Romanian double bass virtuoso Michael Cretu and talented student musicians from the RNCM, conducted by eminent choir leader and composer Sasha Johnson Manning. Patsy Pope from All about Dementia will be giving an opening speech and representatives from many leading UK organisations including Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia UK will be available afterwards for informal networking and information sharing.
“The piece sends a positive message about the creativity and wisdom of people with dementia and the importance of finding new ways of listening to and communicating with people living with this frightening condition,” said Holly, who established the RNCM’s Music for Health programme.
Edward Coverley, activities co-ordinator at one of the participating care homes – Cawood House in Brinnington in Stockport – said the Adages Project “created a space in which people can be humorous, musical, imaginative, vocal, sarcastic, physical, dynamic, exploratory, argumentative, uplifted, tearful, baffled, curious, and otherwise human.”
The granddaughter of the lady whose remark gave the composition its name said the music had made her very happy.
“My grandmother is one of the most important parts of my life: I love seeing her happy,” she said. “Adages has been a truly amazing programme.”
Discussions are also underway with BBC Radio 4 Religion and Ethics Department with a view to broadcasting excerpts of the piece during Dementia Awareness Week in May 2017.
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Issued by: Kate Hartwell, Adages Project Manager Tel: 07935601196 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The performance will be dementia friendly and accessible to people of all ages and abilities. Representatives from a wide range of UK and regional dementia agencies will be in attendance so that audience members, including people living at home with dementia and their carers, can access information and guidance on dementia support in an informal context.
Holly Marland is a singer, kora player and composer widely acclaimed for her engagement with diverse communities and passionate about music’s role in society. Holly established the Music for Health programme at the RNCM which is now based as part of the arts for health organisation LIME at Central Manchester University Hospitals Foundation Trust. She is a specialist music for health practitioner as well as a registered Music Therapist. www.hollymarlandmusic.com
The charity Music in Hospitals has nearly 70 years of experience in providing music sessions for hospitals and other healthcare venues. Their musicians are adept at entering an environment with empathy and flexibility and perform live for people with all sorts of illness and disability, adjusting their choice of music to the needs of the patients. Healthcare staff are able to continue with their duties as the musicians play, in an environment that benefits from the relaxing and calming influence the music engenders.
The Adages project has also worked in partnership with RNCM, a leading UK conservatoire with a vibrant student community and arts programme, with Manchester Cathedral whose vision is vision is to grow, build community and make a difference in society and the wider world and with Carers Link in Lancashire who provide comprehensive information and support services to those living with dementia in the community.