A dozen singers including a vocalist whose version of a Welsh classic has had a million hits on YouTube gave one-to-one personal performances care home residents.
The tuneful interlude at Pendine Park’s Bryn Seiont Newydd dementia centre in Caernarfon was masterminded by freelance community art practitioner Pauline Down.
She recruited the singers to provide a musical Cwtch or hug for the residents, performing songs written specifically for the occasion using comments collected form residents in other care homes as part of an arts project.
They also sang well known classics like Bring Me Sunshine and Hello Dolly.
Among those taking part was folk singer-songwriter Eve Goodman, who hails from Caernarfon but now lives in Cornwall.
Her own arrangement of the traditional Welsh song, Dacw ‘Nghariad (There’s my Love), has attracted almost one million hits on YouTube.
She said: and recording artist Eve Goodman said: “Music reaches a different part of the brian and sometimes it means we can communicate through music. It’s beyond language.
“I’ve really enjoyed coming into Bryn Seiont Care Home and interacting with older people. They are our elders and we should respect them and give them the time they deserve.”
Pauline Down, a former student at Bangor University who now lives in Cardiff, explained: “I was commissioned, in 2015, by Age Cymru at the Gwanwyn Festival which celebrates older age through the arts to work on a singing project that would take music into care homes.
“Over a year I collected comments taking part in care home activities and used the words to create pieces that could be shared intimately by singers on a one-to-one basis with residents.
“All the singers who have come along to Bryn Seiont are locally based mostly amateur singers. Some sing in community choirs such as the Ysbyty Gwynedd which I originally set up.
“I wanted the Cwtch project to feel like a sound hug rather than a performance. I didn’t want the singers to be one end of a room and the residents, as an audience, the other. It has to be an intimate shared experience.”
“We first met up as a group for one session in April and then got together again just a few days ago fror an intensive rehearsal.
“I’m absolutely delighted with the way the project has gone. Everyone has bonded so well. It’s remarkable as many of the singers have never been in a care home environment before.
“I wanted to bring the Cwtch project to North Wales and the Pendine Park Care Organisation has been wonderful. We have been made so welcome. I’d now love to take the project to more care homes across North Wales.”
Bryn Seiont’s musician in residence, Nia Davis Williams says she was pleased to welcome Pauline Down and the Cwtch project to the care home.
She said: “It’s been a lovely occasion. We chose to hold the three sessions throughout the day in different Bryn Seiont lounges. We felt that made the project more intimate rather than have everyone in our music room.
“The idea behind the Cwtch project is for singers to interact with residents on a one-to-one basis and that clearly worked well with some residents. It means it’s not so much a performance as a shared experience.”
She added: “It was nice to see the reaction of residents and the singers involved. The title of the project, Cwtch, is perfect it really is a musical hug that the vocalists are giving residents.
”The project fits perfectly with what we do at Pendine Park because the arts in general and music in particular provide the golden thread running through everything we do to enrich the lives of our residents and staff alike.”
Singer Kate Watkiss, a web designer from Deiniolen, also thoroughly enjoyed being involved.
She said: “I was invited through Pauline. I am involved in a choir but I’m more of a percussionist than a singer in honesty.
“I really enjoyed being at Bryn Seiont and working with residents. I could see how some recognised the tunes and reacted to them. It’s been an amazing experience.”
Singer Claire Mace of Llanfachraeth, Anglesey, added: “Pauline was looking for singers and after I was asked I got in touch with Eve Goodman who is a singer songwriter and invited her to join too.
“I have been a member of several choirs but find the Cwtch project different. It’s so intimate and personal so along as residents are happy for singers to be close.”
Eirian Parry of Clwt-y-Bont witnessed the Cwtch project as she was visiting her husband of 47 years, Michael, who is a Bryn Seiont Newydd resident.
She said: “I am very very happy with the care my husband receives at Bryn Seiont Newydd. I take him out for walks in his wheelchair and he enjoys the activities in the music room which is wonderful facility.
“The Cwtch project is brilliant. The singers sang ‘You are my Sunshine’ which has always been one of Michael’s favourite songs. He obviously recognised it and began clapping along which was lovely to see.”
Christine Wiggins, of Llanrug, who was visiting Peter Wiggins, her husband of 42 years, added: “The Cwtch project today was wonderful. Peter enjoys music and events such as this. If it’s something he isn’t enjoying he becomes agitated and we certainly didn’t see that.
“I visit Peter a lot as do our two sons. I’m really happy with the care he receives at Bryn Seiont Newydd. It’s really import to me and Peter, that he is stimulated and kept active and that is certainly the case. The staff really are wonderful.”