Essex Folk Rehearse

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Sinfonia Viva & Orchestras Live present ESSEX FOLK

Sinfonia Viva rehearse residents at Well House Care Home
Sinfonia Viva rehearse with residents at Well House Care Home

Just over a month ago a project was launched which would bring the residents of four care homes new enthusiasm and hours of enjoyable, creative action. A CONCERT was to be arranged! This was to be no ordinary concert, but the original work of individual ordinary senior citizens from Sea Breeze Care Home, Cheviot Nursing Home, Well House Care Home, and Scarletts Care Home.

Composer, cellist and workshop leader Sam Glazer, along with a creative team of trumpet, double bass, bassoon and percussion from "Sinfonia Viva", came to work with residents and staff of the four care homes in Colchester, Brightlingsea and Clacton to explore and create new music for an hour-long performance at Colchester Arts Centre on 24th January.

This might appear to be an impossibly ambitious undertaking, but the residents not only rose to the challenge, but accomplished the task with enthusiasm and joy! The music and lyrics all produced by the old folk, in consultation with the young instrumentalists who came every week to work with them. There was much appreciation for these musicians who sat on the floor, made eye-contact, and listened with great attention to their seniors.

Reminiscing, nostalgia, emotion, feedback and humour intertwined with creative satisfaction as the work progressed. Sam, the leader, charmed everyone with his encouraging manner. The tune which was used to begin the voice exercises, "Bella Mama", became a sort of theme song and was heard often as the rooms rocked to the happy voices. Anyone at any time was likely to break into song!

One of the band, Adam, got into lively discussion with Maria in her native Italian. She was very moved to be able to converse in her mother-tongue. Adam has now promised her a monthly phone call to continue the dialogue.

Herewith are some of the reactions of the participants:-

Peggy: "Gold stars to everyone! What a lot of fun, enjoyment and talk!"

Maurice: "So good to work together, remember past musical experiences, be able to compose songs and share laughter."

John: "Lovely to talk to everybody, to enjoy good music and the challenge of composing original songs, all in an atmosphere of unconditional love."

Doreen: "I enjoyed everything. There were some lovely memories of my native Yorkshire."

Shirley: "I really enjoyed making up music and words for new songs. It put me in mind of my father, who ran a Music Hall."

Lydia: "It has been beautiful! I liked the bassoon best of the instruments. Making music reminded me of my favourite singer, Cliff Richard. "(Lydia has since died. The song she composed will be called `Lydia`s song`).

Joan: "I loved the togetherness of it all, singing the old songs and making new ones. I liked the double bass best. "Joan got up to dance to some jazz music, to the delight of all.

Lillian: "It has been lovely to see all the happy faces! I've enjoyed everything!"

Molly: "Everyone has been great!The trumpeter has such a lovely face!I thought the bassoon the best of all the instruments."

It is clear that everyone has loved being part of creating new songs, both words and melodies. The listening skills of the young band and their warm friendliness were stimulating and encouraging. All wish to continue collaborating into the future!

A CD has been helping in rehearsals. Relatives and friends are taking an interest, and of course the staff supportive and enjoying the benefit of the lively atmosphere.

The last word (for the time being) goes to Mandy Faires, Care Standards Officer, who oversees two of the care homes involved: - "This is by far the best thing we have ever done for our residents!!"