Transforming Communities

Live Music Now Wales and Scotland musicians perform Songs from Above and Below

This month, Live Music Now is thrilled to unveil new works that were written as part of the ongoing ‘Composing With Care’ project. It’s a simple concept, where our musicians go into care homes for older people, talk with the residents, then professional composers use their stories as inspiration to write new pieces of music.

As the latest instalment in the Composing With Care initiative, Live Music Now musicians Samantha Price (soprano) Jennifer Walker (soprano) Rhiannon Pritchard (piano) and Philip May (piano) have been working with residents of care homes across Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taf. Traditional folk singers Robyn Stapleton and Claire Hastings have been working with residents of care homes across West Lothian. 

Composer John McLeod then drew inspiration from the stories and recollections of local mining culture the musicians gathered, and wrote ‘Songs From Above and Below’. These songs will be performed by musicians in free concerts open to the public, as well as in residential care settings.

Last week, the composer attended one of the first performances of the new commission. John described the concert as, “the most unusual and remarkable premiere of any work of mine”, and went on to post the following message on his Facebook page.

“There were many with very special needs – but all listened in their own way – some in silence, others commenting as the work went along, some trying to join in! In many ways I felt this was just as significant (even more so) as my premiere at last year’s Proms with 6000 in the audience! As I left, a lovely old lady clutching a doll just said, ‘Thank you, John.’ A day to remember! Thank you Live Music Now for making music a real communicative experience. It makes one realise from time to time the mysterious and joyful way that music can reach out to everyone – no matter what the human condition!”

August will see three free public performances of the ‘Songs From Above and Below’ suite by Live Music Now Wales and Scotland musicians. We look forward to introducing the new works to new listeners. All are very welcome!

Concert dates
6.30pm, Friday 14 Aug, Glanfa Stage, Wales Millennium Centre, Bute Place, Cardiff Bay
2pm, Fri 28 Aug, Howden Park Centre, Howden, Livingston West Lothian
2pm, Wed 19 Aug, National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh
To download the event flyer, click here.

This new work of art was created by John McLeod for Live Music Now and is part of The Baring Foundation’s ‘Late Style’ Artists Commission Series. The Baring Foundation has pioneered support for a wide range of arts programmes supporting older people to enjoy and take part in the arts. This series supports leading professional artists, all of whom are over 70, to bring their original and exceptional artistic craft and insights to the theme of ‘Age’.Eleven new works will reach a variety of spaces and audiences, between 2015–2017.

This marks the third Composing with Care project originally developed by Live Music Now Scotland. Composer William Sweeney wrote the beautiful series ‘From the Islands’ after musicians visited sheltered housing and care homes in the Inner Hebrides. Composer John Maxwell Geddes’ work, ‘A Castle Mills Suite’ about a WWI rubber factory in Edinburgh was written as part of the Composing With Care project last year, and was given its Australian premiere earlier this year.

A group of people in a recording studio, singing and clapping hands

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