'So Many Beauties' - A Celebration of Creativity in Dementia
The Power of Music shines out.
Last night I experienced one of the most uplifting musical performances I have been to in my life (and I have been to many).
Taking place in the historic setting of Manchester Cathedral, it was a new piece of choral music by Holly Marland generated from the creative ideas of people with dementia, and the performance involved people of all ages.
The Cathedral was filled with a diverse audience made up of general public - old and young, people with dementia, carers, activity co-ordinators, experts in dementia etc and all were welcome to join in in any way they felt like. Some sang, some clapped along and some even danced in the aisles. It was truly joyous to see so many people involved, enjoying and being brought together through music.
Holly set up the Adages Project to give people with dementia the chance to create a beautiful new piece of music which celebrates their creativity. Creative sessions were held in local dementia care settings and included singing, poetry-writing, dancing, improvisations with percussion instruments and creative conversation supported by Holly and students from the Royal Northern College of Music.
Holly recorded over 80 hours of creative material from the sessions and all the themes in the performance were generated from these.
The result was a wonderful musical story which interwove familiar traditional songs such as ‘My Bonnie lies over the ocean’ with new pieces such as ‘Mexican Waves of percussion and giggles’, ‘Here we are together’ and ‘Having up a lovely time’ that were all based on the creative sessions with people living with dementia. We heard beautiful instrumental pieces, amusing percussion pieces, choral works as well as solo and ensemble performances. We were taken through the seasons, along the riverside, marched along with a drum, danced in the starlight and delighted by ‘pom pom poms’. The final solo piece sung by Holly was the title piece ‘So Many Beauties’ was inspiring and showed us how we can communicate with people with dementia through creativity and empathy and that ‘all our sounds as human beings have some intent.’
The evening was brought to a happy close with a rousing chorus of ‘Oh when the saints’ when everyone joined in in whatever way they wished and everyone’s contribution was valued.
Hopefully this new Oratorio celebrating the power of music in communication and the creativity of those with dementia will be performed again and again. I would recommend it to everyone and would certainly attend again myself and indeed would love be involved in performing it. All involved certainly had ‘up a lovely time’.
On top of all that I got to speak to some delightful people, all of whom were committed to ensuring that people living with dementia live life as well as possible.
For more information on The Adages Project visit - https://adagesblog.wordpress.com/
The Adages Project was funded by the Arts Council and Music in Hospitals with support from the RNCM, Manchester Cathedral and Carers Link.