The live recording of the world premiere of So Many Beauties is now available online at Soundcloud. We hope you’ll enjoy listening via the link below! Here’s a review of the concert by St George’s member Joe Keaney.
“So many beauties” exclaimed the Polish lady with dementia when composer, singer and kora player Holly Marland and her ensemble of musicians performed by her bedside as part of a project to give people with dementia the chance to create a new musical work celebrating their creativity.
Her intuition inspired the title of Holly’s joyous and touching patchwork quilt oratorio that had its world premiere to a rapt audience at a packed Manchester Cathedral on 6th April.
Holly had assembled a children’s choir, a carers’ choir and a strong contingent of BBC Daily Service Singers and St George’s Singers, plus a musical ensemble of RNCM students under the baton of Sasha Johnson Manning for the occasion and what a belting celebration of life and the affirmative power of music they all gave!
She had recorded over 80 hours of creative material from people living with dementia and all their remarks and tunefulness weaved into this mesmerizing musical tapestry. The uplifting inclusiveness of “You’re welcome at my door” and “God painted nature” ran alongside the fun of “Beryl dancing in the starlight”, “Yankety tankety” and memories of shepherd’s pie. Musical rhythms oscillated from evocations of chilly winter to the sultry Nile by way of the familiarity of “My Bonnie lies over the ocean” and “When the Saints go marching in”.
Amid so much sunshine, Holly’s own plaintive alto solo on the Polish refrain “Moja Piekna” and “So Many Beauties” were most affecting, reflecting the shimmering vulnerability of life’s conditionality.
As the evening closed with everyone joining in “the Saints” the audience’s standing ovation echoed a specialist’s opening remarks, that we dwell not on what is lost in dementia but celebrate what is still there, alive and beating, which music can draw on and connect with. The warm, heartfelt, sustained audience applause was a tribute to that connection.”