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Opera by the sea

/ Culture

OPERA arrived by the sea when a group of talented performers visited a Skegness residential and nursing home for a series of unique and emotional sessions for residents.

The residents, all living with different stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s, took part in the workshops. They were led by freelance musicians, who brought an array of skills with them – including a cellist and a flutist, along with percussion, opera singing, song writing and movement.

Pictured outside the Seacroft Court Care Home are (right to left): Katie-Louise Green, Magna Vitae Cultural Project Co-ordinator; Gemma Elgar, Seacroft Manager; Neil Smith, Freelance Musician; Belinda Evans, freelance musician and performer of Garsington Opera; Sam Glazer, freelance musician and producer; Jess Clarke, apprentice at Opera North; and Freya Wynn-Jones, freelance director, singer and performer of Garsington Opera.

Opera by the Sea was a collaborative pilot project between Magna Vitae Trust for Leisure and Culture, the Buckinghamshire-based Garsington Opera Company and the Lincolnshire Music Service. All have various community arms, which attract funding to help people learn, while stimulating others, through drama and song.

The musicians, who came from across the country, performed the sessions at Seacroft Court Care Home with a group of around eight residents.

They combined visual effects with songs and poetry – all connected to the sea, engaging the residents to write their own material, to which tunes were also created. Powerful story-telling was mixed with drama – encouraging residents to touch and smell seaside objects while singing.

Magna Vitae Cultural Project Co-ordinator, Katie-Louise Green said:
“Magna Vitae as a trust stands for living a great life and in doing this, we are engaging with those living with dementia and helping them. This has been a unique project for us and an extension of our work in the community with people with early stages of dementia. It has been wonderful, and you can see the difference in the faces of those who have taken part.
“The management and staff here were really supportive and understood the nature of this truly unique project,” she added.

Garsington Opera’s project leaders Freya Wynn-Jones and Sam Glazer led the sessions.
“To see so many expressions of happiness during our time here has been so very rewarding,” said Freya.

Sam added: “It has been truly wonderful to have been given the freedom to create this project, which would not have happened in the same way without the support that Magna Vitae has given.”

Magna Vitae runs more activities for people suffering dementia. For more information click here.

Katie-Louise would like to thank Embassy Theatre, Garsington Opera, businesses Digby’s Pet Store and Ebb & Flo and local residents for their contributions of musical instruments, books, coastal themed props and material to the project, which was a vital element to create visual and sensory stimuli for the participants.


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