Hear and Now

Project development 2008-09
Orchestras Live first facilitated a project between Fusion Youth Singing and the Philharmonia Orchestra, involving a two-day residential event at the Chellington Centre near Bedford in May 2008, bringing together twenty young people with a Music Leader and three Philharmonia musicians. The event proved a great success and generated enthusiasm for further collaboration between the partners.

Following further discussions, it was decided to broaden the scope of the partnership to include the ‘Music for Memory’ group from the Bedfordshire and Luton Locality of the Alzheimer’s Society. The ‘Echoes and Dreams’ project was duly delivered in March and April 2009 in two main phases, a four day workshop which saw the creation of new music and a performance of the work at the Harpur Suite at the Bedford Corn Exchange, prior to a Philharmonia concert. The collaboration was again very successful, to the extent that independent evaluation of the project recommended the partnership should be further developed at a deeper and more extended level and it was on this basis that the first ‘Hear and Now’ project was devised and delivered in the summer of 2010.

Hear and Now 2010
The first ‘Hear and Now’ project again involved a collaboration between Fusion Youth Singing, ‘Music for Memory’, the Philharmonia Orchestra and Orchestras Live. The project comprised an initial training programme for peer mentors from Fusion Youth Singing and ‘Music for Memory’ followed by a creative orchestra project over five days, involving the creation of compositions and songs by the participants, supported by the peer mentors and musicians from the Philharmonia, with a concert performance on the final evening.

Hear and Now 2011
The 2011 project involved the same core partners, but extended the scope of the programme to involve other community groups in Bedford. The project was given the theme of a journey, to reflect the respective physical journeys taken by immigrant communities and metaphorical journeys by people with living with dementia and their carers. A similar format of creative workshops, supported by the involvement of peer mentors and followed by a concert was adopted.

Hear and Now 2013
The ‘Hear and Now’ 2013 project was extremely ambitious in its scale, eventually involving more than 100 instrumentalists and 120 singers, drawn from more than 13 local organisations in addition to the core partners. It involved musical material generated in a series of workshops with the participant groups in the project, as inspiration for the composition of a new, large-scale original piece of music by Project Leader Tim Steiner, based upon the nonsense rhymes of Edward Lear.

The piece was inspired by the diverse communities of Queen’s Park and particularly by the core inter-generational partnership between Fusion and ‘Music for Memory’, supplemented by the involvement of performers from other old and new migrant communities. This created a challenge for the participants to work with people from different backgrounds and ages, whilst at the same time having the stimulating and challenging experience of learning the music and performing it at a concert in the Bedford Corn Exchange that attracted an audience of 400.

Hear and Now 2014-15
‘Hear and Now’ 2014: By contrast with the previous year, the ‘Hear and Now’ 2014 project was more modest in scale, involving just the core partners and a more limited programme involving a visit to the Royal Festival Hall, a creative weekend in Queen’s Park and an informal concert. It did, however, introduce a new component in the form of a compositional poetry element, which added an extra dimension to the previous project content.

The project evaluation concluded that ‘Hear and Now’ 2014 was ‘another valuable milestone on the project journey and that further collaborations in the future will help to consolidate and develop further the many benefits already achieved’. It further noted that the project ‘made great use of the home of the Philharmonia to create a memorable and inspirational day out for project participants’ and that ‘it explored the potential for the inclusion of additional art forms, to supplement the core musical elements’, both elements of which were influential in developing the format and content of the 2015 project.