Concerts are a real tonic for older people in Caernarfon

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Older people in Gwynedd are being given a tonic every month.

Arts loving care organisation Pendine Park has formed a new partnership with Galeri in Caernarfon to put on a season of monthly concerts.

A new partnership between Galeri Caernarfon and Pendine Park Care Organisation has secured the future of a season of popular monthly concerts.

The TONIC concerts have been designed to offer older people the opportunity to enjoy the arts.

Pendine Park is building a new £7m centre of excellence for people with dementia on the site of the former Bryn Seiont community hospital on the outskirts of the town.

A film produced by BAFTA winning director Nia Ceidiog about Pendine Park is shown at the beginning of each session.

Galeri Chief Executive, Gwyn Roberts, is delighted to be Pendine Park, particularly since it is moving to the Caernarfon area and creating more than 100 new jobs.

He said: “The initial concept of our TONIC programme was for care homes to bring residents along to Galeri to see live music performances.

“But we now feel the age range has broadened and during school holidays we can often have three generations here watching a performance together.

“The TONIC programme, which sees one performance a month, usually on a Thursday afternoon, isn’t about income. It’s about giving people a social reason to come out and enjoy a performance.

“The help and support of Pendine Park secures the future of the programme for at least the next 12 months and possibly beyond that.”

Galeri Artistic Director Mari Emlyn said: “TONIC isn’t just a monthly concert, it’s an experience and we find people are coming along having lunch beforehand and making it a full-day event. It’s more of a social event actually with refreshments served after the performance.

“Initially, we had more care home residents but transport problems mean we get less able to get here these days, but instead we find more and more people who live in their own homes coming out, meeting up and enjoying the performances.

“We can very often have as many as 240 people or more buying tickets, which are just £3 each, for a TONIC concert.

“And the programme is varied with everything from traditional Welsh folk music, instrumental pieces to tenor Rhys Meirion who is appearing at our March concert.

“And we are showing a short video demonstrating how the arts are used to enrich the lives of Pendine Park residents before all TONIC performances as well as before every film screening here at Galeri.

“The film really shows how performance and music enriches the lives of people in a care home environment.

“It’s exciting times for Galeri as a venue. We are 10 years old and it’s good to be working with Pendine Park who are moving into the area, creating many new jobs for local people and are clearly going to be an important addition to the Caernarfon community.”

Pendine proprietor Mario Kreft and chief executive, Gwynfor Jones, went along to join the audience for the January TONIC performance of traditional Welsh folk music, Y Traddodiad Byw (Living Tradition).

Gwynfor Jones said: “This is an excellent partnership for Pendine Park as, like Galeri, we understand and actively encourage the benefits that exist between the arts and health.

“We really are delighted to support the TONIC programme and some of the other programmes here at Galeri. And we are also pleased Galeri is being supported by Arts and Business Wales too.”

He added: “The TONIC programme is exciting and for our prospective it helps to raise our profile in a geographical area we are moving into with the flagship development we are building at Bryn Seiont.

“Building work is well underway and the plans are that the development will open in September. It will see a bilingual centre and 16 companion livingapartments enabling people to stay living independently for as long as possible.”

Mario Kreft added “I’m absolutely delighted with the new partnership we have with Galeri. At Pendine Park we understand that the arts are a vital component to the well-being of our residents.

“And as the arts are so central to our enrichment programmes it was an easy and obvious choice to support the TONIC season at Galeri. It’s vital we enrich the lives of older people whether they live at home or have more complex needs which mean they have to live in a care home.”

Traditional Welsh folk singer Arfon Gwilym says the TONIC programme gives performers a stage on which to perform for a varied and appreciative audience.

He said: “Opportunities for Sioned Webb, Mair Thomas Ifans and I to perform traditional Welsh folk songs are sadly few and far between. Pop music, even in Welsh, is so popular that traditional folk music is pushed to one side and it’s hard to find a platform.

“The TONIC season of performances is a fantastic opportunity for musicians and performers such as us. We perform as a group as well as individuals.

“We performed three very different styles. Penillion, singing to a harp accompaniment and is a traditional and ancient art, pelygain, which is traditional Welsh carols and singing to a triple harp accompaniment.”

Arfon, who like his fellow Y Traddodiad Byw performers, hails from Merionethshire, added: “The TONIC concerts are absolutely fabulous and very enjoyable. The audience really seem to appreciate what we are trying to do and clearly enjoy a great day out.”