A care home in Wrexham echoed to the sweet sound of a classically trained mezzo soprano and classical pianist thanks to a musical outreach programme.
Live Music Now supports professional musicians to use their talents for the benefit of those that might otherwise be excluded from the joy of experiencing live musical performances.
As part of the North Wales International Music Festival, mezzo soprano Olivia Gomez and pianist Ben Pinnow dropped into Pendine Park care organisation’s Hillbury House Care Home to perform an hour-long concert of songs.
Manager Cindy Clutton said: “It’s been a pleasure welcoming Olivia and Ben to Hillbury House. They are extremely talented musicians and it’s clear they have been a big hit with all our residents.
“Music and the arts play a huge role in our enrichment programme right across all Pendine. It’s clear to see our residents, some of whom are very elderly, really enjoy the music.
“There is plenty of foot tapping and hand clapping and I think it takes many of them back in time. Residents do get excited when we have visits such as these and many relatives drop by to listen too.”
June Jones, of Smithfield, Wrexham dropped into see her mother-in-law, 98-year-old Gertrude Jones who has been a resident at Hillbury House for more than three years.
June said: “Gertrude really enjoys events like these at Hillbury House. She can’t hear very well now but still manages to join in with a few songs that she knows.
“There is a real community atmosphere at Hillbury House. Someone from the family visits Gertrude every day and we can drop in as often as we like, it’s never a problem. I came in early today, for example, so I could do Gertrude’s hair.”
Lorraine Wynne, 34, a mobile make-up artist and beautician, called into see her grandmother, May Edwards, 83, who has been a resident at Hillbury House for six months.
She said: “I love coming to see my grandmother and see what activities are going on. There is always something that residents can join in with if they want.
“I came one day and they were all playing carpet bowls which was lovely. The music today was excellent and all the residents seem to enjoy it.”
She added: “I call a couple of times a week when I’m passing and I’m always made to feel welcome. It’s a bit like home from home. Obviously I’d prefer to have my grandmother living in her own home but that simply isn’t possible.”
Pendine Park were among the main sponsors of the North Wales International Music Festival which is held at St Asaph Cathedral.
Earlier this year the organisation was named as Business of the Year at the Arts and Business Cymru Awards for their commitment to the arts.
Mezzo soprano Olivia Gomez, 25, who trained at Cardiff’s Royal Welsh College of Music and Dram and performs with the BBC National Chorus of Wales, said: “I do a lot with Live Music Now and always work with Ben Pinnow. I think the scheme helps me remember what music is all about.
Pianist Ben Pinnow, 32, who also trained at Cardiff’s Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, added: “It’s been a very enjoyable visit to Hillbury House. It’s always nice when your audience appreciates what you do.
“Olivia and I have come to North Wales from our Cardiff base as part of the North Wales International Music festival’s outreach programme. We are taking Live Music Now to schools, hospitals, hospices and care homes.
“It’s been a real pleasure performing at Hillbury House as the residents obviously enjoyed the music and the songs we performed. It’s wonderful to have that reaction to live music.”
Senior care practitioner Lynda Jones, added: “It’s been a real pleasure seeing residents join in and singing along with the songs they know. And we have had a few that have enjoyed having a dance too.
“It’s been a wonderful morning and one residents have clearly enjoyed and got a great deal of pleasure from. Of course residents are forced to attend, they only watch and listen if they want to.”