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 community music therapy service), Fusion Youth Singing (a diverse young choir), and other community partners, Hear and Nowsupports valuable relationships for people living with dementia and their carers and forges understanding between generations and communities.
Initiated in 2009 by Orchestras Live and the Philharmonia Orchestra, Hear and Now is firmly established as a cultural asset in the community of Queens Park, Bedford.
I’ve felt much more ‘not alone’ with memory loss.
~ Music 4 Memory participant
What we're doing now
Now in its 15th year, the latest Hear and Now project runs between March and May 2023 with a series of in-person and online workshops led by Tim Steiner and a team of Philharmonia musicians including their Artist in Residence, Love Ssega. A playlist of familiar songs and orchestral music is being used to stimulate ideas amongst the core groups of Fusion Youth Singing and the Music 4 Memory choirs, with additional participants joining from adult community ensemble Da Capo and the North Bedfordshire Youth Chamber Orchestra. A new song written by Love Ssega brings a particular focus on climate change and the need for us all to care for things that matter.
The co-creation process culminates in a performance at the University of Bedfordshire Theatre on Sunday 14 May when more Philharmonia players will join the ensemble for a celebration of the work achieved by this diverse company of people.
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The story so far...
Since 2009, 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.
2019 marked the tenth anniversary of Hear and Now, which was celebrated though another innovative inter-generational project incorporating choreography and digital art as well as music, culminating in a joyous, moving performance in front of a large audience at the University of Bedfordshire Theatre.
Like many of our other projects during the pandemic, in 2020 Hear and Now moved online and made a virtue of the opportunity to connect digitally with the Philharmonia’s parallel project with Leicester Musical Memory Box, creating an even broader intergenerational company. Following a period of R&D to establish a suitable approach to group interaction using Zoom, a series of weekly creative workshops took place over summer 2020. The aim was to develop familiarity and confidence in using the online platform amongst the young and older participants, whilst also enabling people who lack internet access to make a contribution through posted craft resources. In the autumn a new phase of the project involved creation of music, spoken word and film as the company were joined by more professional artists and players from the orchestra. Their creative efforts premiered in an online performance on 22 April 2021.
The latest iteration of Hear and Now was a mix of online and in person delivery sessions, bringing together fusion youth singing, music 4 memory and other local groups of young and adult musicians alongside an artistic team from the Philharmonia and House of Absolute. Hear and Now: Sticks and Stones culminated on the stage of The University of Bedfordshire Theatre in April 2022, and was another reminder of the way music and other art forms can bring people together and support wellbeing in a diverse community.
Watch the Philharmonia's documentary about the 2022 Hear and Now project: Sticks and Stones
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 internationally with Bergen Symphony Orchestra in Norway.
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Hear and Now is produced by Orchestras Live and the Philharmonia in partnership with Fusion Youth Singing, Tibbs Dementia Foundation’s Music 4 Memory and Leicester Musical Memory Box.