Philharmonia Orchestra returns to campus for community performance

Wed 07 June, 2023
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The University of Bedfordshire recently hosted the Philharmonia Orchestra’s award-winning Hear & Now community project which culminated in a performance uniting intergenerational music-making, movement and poetry.

After spending two months during the spring term based at the Bedford campus planning the showcase, the participants took to the stage for a public performance at the University’s theatre.

The University of Bedfordshire has been working with the Philharmonia’s Hear & Now project for a number of years, which brings together local older people living with dementia, their carers, young singers and instrumentalists from grassroots community organisations and schools, as well as members of the orchestra itself. Last April, the Bedford campus hosted the final performance of the 2022 project chapter – the first live performance of Hear & Now following the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Paula Page, Collaborative Project Manager at the University of Bedfordshire, commented: “It was an honour to be able to host and assist the Philharmonia Orchestra with their Hear & Now project again. This year’s performance followed the theme of ‘Rooted’ and offered a very personal performance from the participants about their memories of songs, stories and music. It was very touching to watch.”

Hear & Now in Bedford is co-produced with Orchestras Live and presented in partnership with the University of Bedfordshire, Fusion Youth Singing and Tibbs Dementia Foundation’s Music 4 Memory.

Through a series of workshops, the project aims to provide therapeutic support for those living with dementia, improve understanding for younger participants, and enable isolated people to build relationships.

In 2019, academics from Bedfordshire’s Research Institute of Media, Arts & Performance (RIMAP) undertook a small-scale research project investigating the effects of taking part in Hear & Now on the wellbeing of groups involved – recording measurable improvement in all of these groups.

Speaking about this latest performance, Lucy Al-Zoghbi, Community Engagement Manager with the Philharmonia Orchestra, said: “As project manager for Hear & Now, it has been a pleasure to witness the creative process this year. From March to May, we’ve been based at the University’s Bedford campus, working together in fun and creative ways, sharing ideas and exploring the theme of taking care of each other and the planet.

“This year, we’ve seen both new and returning members of Hear & Now, all local people from different parts of the town and across Bedfordshire, young and old, coming together through song, movement and poetry. It’s been a very caring and supportive environment that we’ve created together and a really proud moment to see it all come together in the final performance.”

*All images credit: Beth Walsh Photography


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