Nicoilne Kraamwinkel and Rosanna Rolton, mum and daughter, charmed audiences during seven concerts over three separate days in late October. They performed “Conversation Pieces” in four nursing homes and day centres, entertained the guests at the Sanderstead Decorative and Fine Arts Society Annual Lunch, and gave two full-length lecture-recitals for “Music Matters” in Whitgift House Chapel, South Croydon and for “Musical Offerings” in St Mark’s Church, Bromley.
“We were very impressed with Nicoline and Rosanna playing the harp and violin beautifully this afternoon”, wrote the Administrator of Fairlight and Fallowfield Nursing Home in Chislehurst. “Our residents thought that the music was wonderful and thoroughly enjoyed it. In addition it was lovely how the musicians interacted with the residents in terms of them being provided with a ‘menu’ of music to choose from, and being told a little background to the pieces.”
“The music session this morning was a great success”, echoed the Activity Co-ordinator at Bertha James Day Centre in Bromley, ” and one I hope we can repeat”.
Here are the musicians in action in the Church Room at St Mark’s Church, performing music from Baroque to Tango, and sharing anecdotes with a delighted audience assembled for the second in our new series of “Musical Offerings” in Bromley:
The home-made tea loaf and chocolate cake seemed to go down well at the break, and the apple cake containing old-fashioned garden Bramleys seems to have been a particular success. In fact, a couple of large buckets of this year’s huge Bramley harvest taken to the church enabled quite a few of the audience to take apples home with them too!
8.30a.m. is a cruel time of day to start a rehearsal. Nicoline, Ian and I arrived at Langley Park School for Boys on Monday in time to spend a long morning working with eight young musicians in preparation for concerts that same afternoon and on the following day for older people in local care settings. Head of Music David Bullen not only conducted, but also played the piano, played the clarinet and drove the bus, and staff violin specialist Lisa Fry coached and played to complete the ensemble. Some of the boys had only been in the school a couple of weeks as brand new Year 7s, holding their own in a mixed group of violins, cello, flute, bassoon and horn, with Nicoline Kraamwinkel playing the violin and coaching the strings, Ian Fasham playing the bass trombone and coaching the wind alongside me, Margaret Archibald, on clarinet.
Concert 1: at St Barnabas Beckenham, hosted by Father Tim Hide, with a magnificent array of home-made cakes served by a team of volunteers and enjoyed by local people including a large contingent from the Abbeyfield flats across the road and a group of guests from Bertha James Day Centre on Bromley Common.
Concert 2: a cocktail showcase concert at Langley Park Boys’ School in the magnificent concert hall, the music enjoyed by parents and friends in a “happy hour” with Gin Giardino, Tempo and Fruit Sparkler.
Concert 3: after another early rehearsal to add a couple of extra pieces to our programme, a performance for residents at St Cecilia’s Leonard Cheshire Home in Sundridge Avenue.
Concert 4: afternoon tea at Prince George (Masonic) Duke of Kent Home in Chislehurst, where many of the residents still remembered the previous visit of Langley Boys in a noisier ensemble of woodwind, brass and percussion.
Coloma Court Care Home welcomed us back for a second year in a concert celebration of National Care Homes Day. Young musicians from Hayes School, Bromley took part alongside Margaret Archibald clarinet and Ian Fasham trombone from Everyone Matters. All morning was spent in school rehearsing a varied selection of repertoire that included arrangements for full wind ensemble of Washington Post, Dambusters and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, brass consort pieces from the 16th century contrasted with Razzamajazz, a movement of a Trio Sonata for flutes by the Baroque composer Johann Ludwig Krebs and an arrangement for clarinets and saxophone of a Purcell Air, and a spectacular version of Tico Tico for euphonium solo. Our two Mozart Divertimento movements saw the ensemble with the widest age range, led by amateur clarinet player Rosemary whose 80th birthday is in September, with 13 year old Aisling from Langley Park School for Girls on second clarinet.
A retired priest who is now resident at Coloma Court told us of his first encounter with Washington Post when, aged just four, he followed the band for such a distance that his mother had to alert the local constabulary to find him! Another lady, resident in the UK for many years but originally from Germany, became very emotional on hearing the Dambusters March. As the concert came to an end Maria, Manager of the Home, thanked all the performers for their hard work and presented Margaret with a gorgeous bouquet.
Joy Corbett, Coloma’s super-energetic Activities Organiser, had ensured a generous supply of cream scones for sharing by performers and audience after the concert, and there was much lively conversation between the generations as fingers became sticky with jam.
This event was supported by Waitrose Bromley South through the Community Matters “green tiddlywinks” scheme, and by Coloma Court and the Friends of Everyone Matters.
Rosanna Rolton visited Raleigh House on Saturday to give a post-luncheon harp recital to the Dementia Club. “What a wonderful recital Rosanna treated us to on Saturday!” wrote Assistant Day Centre Manager Marion Caldwell. “Everyone was spellbound and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Even members who can be prone to restlessness were taken with the performance “.
Later that same afternoon Rosanna drove her harp round the corner to The White House where once again she offered items from her musical menu and happily answered questions from those inquisitive about her beautiful instrument. As Rosanna herself explained, “there was much excitement about the harp, many people had never seen a harp close by, which resulted in many questions and stories being shared”.
This day offered the Maldens & Coombe Neighbourhood two extra concerts, thanks largely to donations from the Friends of Everyone Matters. in addition to the six concerts organised during the ’14-’15 season under the local neighbourhood grant scheme.
Danielle Perrett visited Murray House Day Centre and Bradbury Active Age Centre today, Tuesday 10 February, to perform for enthralled audiences of older people in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames.
Everyone Matters has strong links with some twenty venues around the borough, including Tolworth Hospital Cedars Unit and Amy Woodgate House in the South of the Borough, nursing homes and day centres in Maldens and Coombe and in Surbiton, and our musicians are regular performers for audiences at the two centres visited by Danielle today.
The full series of more than 24 concerts during the 2014-15 season is supported by the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames through the four Neighbourhood Grants Committees.
Everyone Matters is delighted to announce that Benslow Music will once again host a residential course for amateur musicians who will come together to rehearse a concert programme for performance in local Hitchin care homes. We piloted this new idea in December 2013 and, following the success of our first course, we have been invited to return for a course running from the evening of Sunday 14th to late afternoon on Wednesday 17th September 2014.
Benslow Music is renowned for the opportunities it provides for amateur musicians to make music together. In this unique course, we aspire not only to share the fun of music-making with one another, but to share it with others who live and work in four local care homes.
In 2013, we arrived on an early December evening to start our course with one of the famous Benslow dinners before spending the evening playing through a large pile of music. Emails had been flying to and fro, and we had come armed with plenty of musical material. A possible programme began to take shape, using the line-up of clarinets, flutes, bassoon and keyboard to the full, and in addition putting the spotlight on some of the extra instruments that had been offered by our doublers, including chromatic harmonica. We rehearsed hard all next day, and it was good to change down a gear for the evening and relax while others did the work at a concert by the London Klezmer Quartet in Benslow’s Morrison Hall. Then it was breakfast, a short top’n tail, and jump into shared cars to get to our first concert, a Coffee Morning at Elmside:
A dash back to Benslow for lunch left us just about time to get out again for our afternoon performance at Highbury Rise, where Maria had promised us mince pies. In fact, her exact words when I rang to offer her a concert were “If you come here, you’ll have to have homemade mince pies”. Yes, you do see a theme emerging here, that food and drink are important on these occasions . Apart from the side benefit to the musicians, who do (honestly) use a lot of energy and get pretty thirsty when performing, there is nothing like a cup of tea and a mince pie to create an easy, sociable atmosphere and promote conversation.
Two concerts down, two to go, and on our second day of concerts I decided I would take the box of percussion out of the boot of my car. Perhaps our performance of “America” from West Side Story was not entirely authentic, but we all had huge fun playing it; every member of the audience at our morning visit to Symonds House Leonard Cheshire Disability, staff and clients alike, enjoyed choosing the instrument that took their fancy from the big red box of maracas, tambourines, drums and guiros.
“Thank you so much for the lovely concert that you and your fellow musicians put on for us yesterday” wrote Ros, the Manager at Symonds House. “It was thoroughly enjoyed by us all of us especially the residents. We particularly liked the way that all the musicians introduced us to all their instruments first then explained to us something about the piece of music that they were going to perform. To realize that some of the pieces of music were 300 years old is amazing. The residents also liked the interaction with the group and the instruments they were allowed to ‘have a go’ with.”
Finally it was back to Benslow for lunch, and then an afternoon tea at Benslow Nursing Home that would have kept a full symphony orchestra quiet, never mind our little group of seven musicians. I’m not quite sure how we squeezed even just the seven of us, with keyboard and music stands, into the living room, but we managed it somehow, and the quality of repartee throughout the concert, and the level of hilarity as the percussion came out, made the performance a lovely climax to our few shared days of intensive music-making.
Music is for sharing! As we prepared to say our goodbyes we were all in agreement that “sharing” was the watchword, the key, the essence and the whole point of the course. Music is communication, music transcends words, music opens hearts and demolishes inhibition, and the music we offered was our passport to these four most welcoming care homes.
The final word should be with the homes, and Debbie spoke for them all:
Thank you all so much for coming into Elmside to perform for us. The morning was actually very moving for many staff members here to see some Residents leave their rooms to come and listen to you, and comment on how much they enjoyed the morning. I really believe this needs to happen more in our care homes.
We received many comments from the Residents about the morning….
“what a wonderful calming way to spend the morning”
“I’ve had a wonderful morning”
“really enjoyed this morning”
“It was lovely to hear classical music performed so well”
“how very kind of you all to come and play just for us”
These are a few of the comments I received during the day, but the most said comment Margaret was….
“WHEN ARE YOU ALL COMING BACK” !!!!!!!!!
So once again on behalf of the Residents we all Thank You.
Here at Elmside we wish you all a very merry Christmas and a healthy New Year.
Dates for 2014: Sunday 14 – Wednesday 17 September …the course meets for dinner on the first evening, and finishes after tea on the last day.
For full details, including course fees, and to enrol, contact: Benslow Music, Benslow Lane, Hitchin, Hertfordshire, SG4 9RB Tel: 01462 459446; email: email@example.com