A special performance

With thanks to Age UK Camden for inviting us to Henderson Court for our first live performance with an audience since lockdown

Blog by Education Director Cherry Forbes

After 12 weeks of online Musicians on Call episodes, last Friday was very special. Katie, Waffy and I played in the outside courtyard of Henderson Court, sheltered housing for the elderly right in the heart of Hampstead. We were all socially distanced and with the help of Andrew and his efficient setting up of microphones, we were able to reach residents from their own flats as well as those who chose to come and sit in the courtyard.

Musicians Performing for audience at care home

What struck us all was the real connections we made with each other and the residents – waving to a lady on the top floor, connecting with a gentleman across the courtyard and allowing everyone to be exactly where they felt comfortable.

Katie Heller, viola

“Today was a reminder of what we already knew, that live music is important and does reach people. Several of the folk there today expressed to us particular music that they liked. A Purcell fan, a request for Tallis canon and Greensleeves all delivered with joy from us to them.

That makes me very happy.

I loved the body percussion joining in with Donna Mobile and the Habanera, and the singing and movement in Helly Helly and Sumer is a’ cumin’ in. Smiles at the end and “please come back again.”

I for one would happily do visits like these all over the country every day. I find this sort of playing and communication very fulfilling and today for the first time since mid-March I felt hopeful.”

Katherine Spence (also known as Waffy), clarinet

“One’s first live performance is a thing since lockdown! It’s like ‘where were you when Princess Diana died!’ – What did I notice, what will I take away with me?

I’ve done a lot of internet performances during lockdown but in comparison (and contrast!) in today’s LIVE performance, I kept noticing and couldn’t quite believe or even totally process in the moment, was the reaction from the audience. Should it be a surprise that they swayed, hummed, clapped, tapped and smiled so joyously to the Verdi and Vivaldi? But somehow every reaction they made was a surprise to me. The reality again, that I’d somehow forgotten, that music really makes a difference, brings quality to life and real purpose.

A lady at the end told me that she has been told she has memory problems but yet she recognised and remembered pretty much every tune we played and this seemed to give her great pride and hope. She also said she had been reminded of her interest and love of classical music and that we had inspired her to go back to her flat and delve into her old CDs and records of classical music.

I hope I never forget again the power of live classical music”.

Waffy presenting in Camden

Audience comments

“Lovely, I really enjoyed it. I would love them to come back again”

“Makes a change!”

“Thoroughly enjoyed it”

“It was very nice”

“I loved it, and they’re such nice people”

"An absolute treat! Wonderful music, it was interactive and great fun. The performers had such lovely personalities which made the whole experience even more enjoyable. "
Sophie Smith, Age UK Camden