We deeply miss being able to bring live music to you during these days of lockdown.
However, our musicians have been working ‘virtually’ to bring you the following videos we hope you will enjoy – just select the video you’d like to see using the playlist in the top-right corner of the video below.
Support our work in Care Homes
Donations are the simplest way to help us bring the gift of music to those whose circumstances would otherwise deny them the benefit, so if you have enjoyed them, please consider supporting our work in care homes and hospices by making an online donation here or DONATE BY CHEQUE Payable to ‘ESO (2006) LIMITED’ and send to:
Care Home Concerts
ESO, c/o Elgar School of Music
WR1 2ES, UK.
If you are a UK taxpayer, please let us know your name, email address and address so that we can claim Gift Aid on your behalf.
Manager & Fundraiser for Concerts in Care Homes & Hospices
Producer, ‘Music to Lift the Spirit’ DVD
The idea of bringing music into care homes and hospices was initiated in 2007 by the ESO cellist Corinne Frost who, along with her colleagues, was aware that live music was hugely beneficial to people who would not otherwise have access to musical stimulation in their daily lives.
‘Prayers for all the music you haven’t made yet’
The above captures the ethos of what the ESO is aiming to achieve, and was said by a retired vicar after our String Duo went to play in the room of his wife who, bedbound for 3 years, was unable to attend the communal concert in the home that day.
Our musicians have many years of experience in this field; they are able to arrive at a venue, assess the mood and level of engagement of their audience and adapt their choice of music accordingly.
All the concerts are very interactive events. The musicians introduce each piece, giving information about the composer, the piece, the opera, song or the musical in order to trigger memories (eg. Judy Garland was the first person to perform Somewhere over the Rainbow; Bach’s Air on a G String was used in advertisements for Hamlet Cigars). All the ensembles encourage their audiences to join in if they wish and this frequently leads to foot tapping, clapping, singing and sometimes dancing.
They usually play for about an hour after which they mingle with their audience over a cup of tea and this frequently leads to stimulating and interesting conversations.
When a resident is too ill to attend a communal concert, our musicians will frequently visit them in their rooms and play something especially for them.
The musicians who participate in these events are all professional orchestral players and are committed to bringing their talents to members of society who are living with dementia or other life debilitating conditions and are therefore unable to attend public performances. Whilst delivering high quality music into care homes and day care centres, the musicians also bring a tremendous sense of warmth, humour and sensitivity to their concerts which raises the spirits, alertness and responsiveness of, not only their primary audience, but also that of the staff, relatives and visitors in all the venues in which they play. One musician once remarked “We give lots of concerts of all types, yet I think our performances in dementia care homes are the only situations where we genuinely make a difference to somebody’s life.”
Ironically, 2020 is the first year that we have single-handedly raised over £17,000 for our Care Homes and Hospices programme which was to cover the cost of putting on a total of 60 concerts over 20 days. We planned to be in a position to concentrate on visiting a selection of dementia homes on a regular basis as we felt that this would not only be extremely beneficial to residents, but also to the staff.
Since the COVID-19 lockdown, we have made videos of our Wind Quartet, String Quartet and String Duo; the String Quartet have also made a video to which thirty Primary School children have contributed remotely from their homes. Fittingly, the last time we did a live intergenerational concert with these children, their favourite song was ‘Over the Rainbow’, which is what they have sung in the video that you can view here.
Research supports our experience that live music benefits people with dementia by stimulating memories, reducing agitation and stress and improving communication between residents and staff.
“Residents who usually leave music activities half way through stayed for the entire performance and sang along; the musicians played requests that encouraged a sing along, the event was professional while still making the residents a key focus. I am delighted with how the whole event was planned organised and executed. Key to the success was the interaction – it was not just an entertain and then leave performance, the residents loved the interaction”
Mill House, Chipping Campden
Downside Up visiting gentleman dying in his room
“What you’ve done in my last days. You people have been brought here for a purpose. I feel like I’ve got a family. I couldn’t have dreamed of anything better, playing music here. I can’t think of anything more wonderful.”
“While the musicians were playing you could hear a pin drop. Every resident was so transfixed and engaged. Everyone was at peace and relaxed. The residents were much calmer after the performance and less restless. The rest of the day the residents remained in uplifted spirits.”
Whittington House Nursing Home, Cheltenham
“An amazing duo. I have had the pleasure of hearing them at one of their concerts. Unfortunately lockdown prevented concert no 2 for me. This has been a great substitute. Thank you.’”
String Quartet, Holmer C of E Academy and Coldwells House Dementia Friendly Choir
“Our ongoing link with the ESO has been a great boon to us as a choir, not only because of the quality of their technical performance but because of the exuberance with which they engage and encourage our participation. The new intergenerational project with the ESO and Holmer Academy brought us much joy and, during lock down, receiving the joint performance from you both was AMAZING.”