Hear and Now

Hear and Now is an award-winning, intergenerational community creative project that unites the old and the young in music making.

What we wanted to achieve

Working with Music 4 Memory (The Tibbs Dementia Foundation’s singing group), Fusion Youth Singing (a diverse young choir), and other community partners, Hear and Now supports valuable relationships for people living with dementia and their carers and forges understanding between generations and communities.

Initiated in 2010 by Orchestras Live and the Philharmonia Orchestra, Hear and Now is firmly established as a cultural asset in the community of Queens Park, Bedford.

A young boy and an older man playing hand bells.

Hear and Now with the Philharmonia Orchestra in 2018.

Credit: Nikolaj Schubert

I’ve felt much more ‘not alone’ with memory loss.

~ Music 4 Memory participant

What happened

Since 2010, more than 600 people have taken part in Hear and Now. Through the project, participants join together in creative music workshops centred around memory and emotions, and create new performance pieces inspired by their discussions and personalities.

The inter-generational aspect of Hear and Now is the most important characteristic. Everyone is inspired by complementary energies and perspectives of the diverse ages; older people are excited by youthful exuberance, and younger people develop a strong new sense of responsibility and care for the older participants. There are no boundaries to the music made together.

Hear and Now’s approach embraces the characteristics of the group, is open and supportive, so it is continually meaningful at both artistic and social levels.

~ Tim Steiner, Music Leader


  • Through the project, local partner organisation Tibbs Dementia Foundation has been able to establish itself in the region and expand the number of singing groups in the Bedford area.
  • Skills development among the young and older participants as well as the orchestral musicians, including leadership of group music-making during the collaborative process.
  • Forming a core strand of the Philharmonia Orchestra's work, Hear and Now has inspired similar projects in Leicester through a partnership with DeMontfort University, and now internationally with Bergen Symphony Orchestra in Norway.

Future Plans

2019 marks the tenth anniversary of Hear and Now, which will be celebrated though another ground-breaking inter-generational project.

The core intergenerational groups will be joined by other young and adult musicians from Bedford to work with a broader range of artists encompassing dance and digital genres as well as music.

Beginning with a visit to a Philharmonia rehearsal at London’s Royal Festival Hall, the creative project entitled Looking Back, Moving Forwards will culminate in a performance at the University of Bedfordshire in November, including an exhibition and film commemorating 10 years of this remarkable project. Further ahead, there are plans to share the inspiration and learning from Hear and Now at a national health and wellbeing conference in 2020.


Philharmonia Orchestra, Fusion Youth Singing and Tibbs Dementia Foundation’s Music 4 Memory.