A GROUP of talented residents from a leading care organisation from North Wales teamed up with a world class orchestra to perform at an international festival.
The melodious group collaborated in two musical workshops with a trio from the renowned Halle during the opening day of the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod which sees singers and dancers from around the world coming to compete in the unique cultural festival.
The previous night Wrexham-based Pendine Park had sponsored a special performance in the Eisteddfod pavilion of Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street starring opera superstar Bryn Terfel.
Youngsters from schools across the region who were visiting the festival on its opening Children’s Day were invited into the workshops and joined in enthusiastically with the jam sessions, which were held in the VIP Lounge area.
Top-class professional musicians from the Halle have been working with Pendine Park for the past six years as part of its pioneering enrichment programme, which enhances the experience of residents and also plays a key role in personal training and staff development.
As a warm-up, the Halle trio of Hugh McKenna on oboe and keyboard, violinist Caroline Abbott and cellist David Petrie played a selection of classical pieces and more upbeat numbers such as the main theme from the musical Oklahoma! while 14 residents, ranging in age from their twenties to nineties, clapped and swayed along in time to the music.
The tempo was varied throughout the hour-long sessions which had their grand finale when trio members handed round instruments including maracas, tambourines and bongo drums so that the Pendine residents and visiting schoolchildren could accompany them in a rousing rendition of the traditional Scottish piece Over the Sea to Skye, complete with howling wind and crashing waves.
One of the residents who helped keep up the beat was 95-year-old Edith Williams who said: “I’ve been taking part in the workshops with the people from the Halle for about three years and I enjoy them so much.
“Joining in today, especially as it’s been at the Eisteddfod, has been really good.”
Another resident who lapped up the entertainment was 70-year-old Christine Jones.
She said: “I was joining in with my tambourine and I really enjoyed myself. Playing and singing in these sessions with your friends is marvellous and it’s good that we can do it with fantastic musicians like the ones from the Halle.”
Caroline Abbott from the Halle said: “All three of us in the trio who came along today work in the main orchestra and also do a lot of outreach work with care homes such as Pendine Park, schools and colleges, and the people we work with range from young children to those in their nineties.
“With elderly people there’s definitely something about music which taps into their memory and when we play a piece they know they love to join in.
“We were delighted to lead these two workshops at the Eisteddfod today, especially as there were also so many children who came along to watch and join in with us.”
Mario Kreft, Proprietor of Pendine Park, said: “This is the first time we have held the workshops during the Llangollen Eisteddfod and it was great to see older people having their lives enriched through music in this way.
“This is the sixth year that we’ve been in partnership with the Halle and it’s been of great value as a mechanism for training staff and as a way of enhancing social care.”