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Soprano Sandra Oman performs for a Covid Care Concert at St Carthage's House nursing home at Lismore, Co Waterford. Photograph: Patrick Browne

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Bringing the joy of live music to our most vulnerable and isolated citizens

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3 min read

Bringing the joy of live music to our most vulnerable and isolated citizens

3 min read

Bringing the joy of live music to our most vulnerable and isolated citizens

With the support of the Creative Ireland Programme, the Mobile Music Machine and the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival have brought their unique live music initiative Covid Care Concerts to over 80 residential care home settings across Ireland during August and September. The Mobile Music Machine is led by cellist Gerald Peregrine and is designed to bring the very best of classical music into the lives of our most vulnerable members of society and those most affected by the COVID19 pandemic.

Since lockdown eased in June, Gerald and his team have been able to bring opera and live classical music to over 1,500 care home residents and their carers across Waterford, Wexford, Waterford, Tipperary, Kerry and various venues in Dublin and Dún Laoghaire. All concerts keep within Covid guidelines as residents and staff gather in outdoor areas or listen through open windows and doors of their care facilities. The feedback from the concerts has been overwhelming with many care homes asking for repeat visits.

Mobile Music Machine founder and director Gerald Peregrine says “If there is one positive thing to emerge from the pandemic, it has shone a light on the desperate need to engage on a more regular basis with the most isolated members of society. Through our repeated concert visits, we hope to build long-lasting friendships with the residents of care homes throughout the county.  Many residents told us they were amazed that such high calibre musicians came to visit their home but we hope to make this a new normal. Our Covid Care Concerts are an expression of our continued commitment for our local communities and we are indebted to Creative Ireland and the various Local Authorities for supporting us in the development of this vital initiative”.

Gerald reports “One woman’s experience best sums up the project. Aged 92, she had been in bed for three weeks prior to our concert visit in June. Her carers persuaded her to get dressed and come outside. She had been a keen music lover her entire life and told us that she never expected to relive that part of her life again. The change in her mood was transformative and she said she can’t wait for the next concert!“.

Like many care homes around the country, the residents and staff of HavenWood have endured months of anxiety and fear. The Head of Nursing at HavenWood, Regina Power, says the live music helps calm the residents and “lets all the stress go away“. “When Covid came into Ireland in March, we didn’t know what to expect. We closed our doors on 6 March. So on the Wednesday, the residents had a normal day. Their families, friends were in to visit and then on the Thursday, we are going around explaining that we’ve gone into lockdown. That we’ll have to start communicating with your families on iPads and phones. You know, it was tough on them,” she said. “Nothing beats live music, does it?” she added.

Residents Peggy Dunphy and Bernie Quinn enjoyed the recital at HavenWood residential care home.  Peggy Dunphy says that the live performance “keeps the magic alive and going“. For resident Bernie Quinn, music is a hobby that helped her coped during lockdown, “It makes me feel as though I’m in another world“.

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