Friday 20 June was National Care Homes Day 2014. Coloma Court Care Home was celebrating in style, kicking off in the morning with a junior school art group sharing its enthusiasm for painting with like-minded residents. Meanwhile, a few miles away at Bishop Justus C of E School, Katie Clemmow , Christopher Newport and I were starting an intensive morning of rehearsals with a group of wind players and singers from year 9. With some ten or a dozen items to rehearse we used the morning to the full. Our programme had been chosen to show off the group’s strengths, and featured a number of songs from the shows…
Singers Lucy, Jess and Sophie serenade residents at Coloma Court
… interspersed with a medley of short instrumental items. These included Handel’s “Ouverture” from the Fitzwilliam Museum and adapted for oboe, clarinet and horn by Katie, Margaret and Chris from the original for two high clarinets and hunting horn, and special items featuring the brass section and the woodwind section that included some old English jigs and reels.
Joy Corbett, Activities Organiser at Coloma Court, had been in touch with Everyone Matters months in advance, to request a return visit by young musicians from Bishop Justus School following our previous visit there during our project “Conversation Pieces – words and music uniting young and old” that had been supported by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund. It is always good to make new friends, but even better to revisit old ones, and we were greeted in the upstairs room by a most welcoming audience on this return visit.
“The national care home open day concert which was on friday 20th June was an enormous success!” wrote Joy afterwards. “The combination of the professional musicians from ‘Everyone Matters’ and the students from Bishop Justus school worked beautifully. The variety of the pieces played and the high calibre of all the musicians created a highly enjoyable concert.”
“Our residents were amazed by the talents of all concerned and had a thoroughly marvellous time listening to them all,” Joy continued. “The room was packed to capacity and many positive comments were made afterwards by our residents. Comments such as; ‘how good it was to see the two generations playing so well together’, ‘how lovely that they came here and gave their time for us’, ‘I wish I had learnt to play like that’ and ‘will they come again, I really loved it’. These were just a few of the comments said, there were many others! I would just like to finish by sincerely thanking both the students from Bishop Justus for taking the time to practice and play for us and special thanks to Margaret for all the time and effort she puts into these events as without her professionalism and dedication to giving back to others this concert would not have happened!”
This one-day project was the third collaboration between Everyone Matters and Bishop Justus, bringing professional musicians into school to work alongside different groups of young musicians in order to perform at local care homes and day centres. The group of year 9 students who took part on this occasion were the youngest yet, and they worked hard to rise to the challenge of putting a programme together so quickly. They entered with good humour into the spirit of working efficiently with a group of unknown professionals pushing hard to get the results that they wanted, and as the morning turned into afternoon one or two players seemed to think that lunch would never come! Nonetheless it was impressive to see the way the more secure players gave support to their friends whose instrumental skills were less advanced, and the programme gradually pulled together. Before we knew it the rehearsal time was up, we were packing music, piling music stands ready for the minibus, and double checking that none of the percussion was left behind. Afterwards Gemma Sheppard, the Subject Leader for Music, wrote “Friday’s workshop was another fantastic experience for a different group of our students from Bishop Justus. They got so much out of rehearsing with the pro players and it was brilliant the level of detail Margaret went into. It really pushed some of our top end students. The performance itself was very gratefully received by the residents of Coloma and it is so worthwhile for students to perform in the community. It is so brilliant that we have been able to work with Everyone Matters for a third time and create such a top quality, well thought out performance together.”
The climax of the concert, and an item that had been given great attention during the rehearsal, was the three movement “Toy” Symphony, long considered to have been the work of Haydn but now believed to have been written by Mozart’s father Leopold, himself a professional violinist and composer as well as an incredibly proud dad. We were performing an arrangement created especially for the assembled forces, and our young lady vocalists agreed to join the percussion section on warbling canary (rescued from a Christmas cracker), rattle (taken from an old pram set) and triangle (from the Bishop Justus percussion trolley). Christopher excelled on toy drum, forming an excellent trumpet and drum team with Alex, and Emma gave the whole ensemble a firmly rhythmic and characterful bass line from her trombone.
Year 9 Brass players take the lead in Leopold Mozart’s “Toy” Symphony while Christopher, our professional horn player, forsakes his usual splendid instrument for a brightly coloured plastic drum.