Kaleidoscope Choir visit Cavendish Hospital

This week the Kaleidoscope Community Choir gave a special performance at the Cavendish Hospital in Buxton. The patients of the Spencer Ward, who suffer from dementia and other mental health problems, were delighted to welcome us into their lounge for a sing song. Led by musical director Carol Bowns, the choir sang some of their favourite songs including Love Me Tender, My Bonnie, and an interesting alternative arrangement of Amazing Grace. The patients and staff of the ward particularly enjoyed hearing the choir’s own special song – Distant Peak – which was written for the choir by one of their own singers Jacob Eckert. Distant Peak is performed with an accompanying slideshow of images of the Peak District, also taken by Jacob. The patients found it particularly moving to see such beautiful photographs of the familiar landscape around the Peak District which emphasis the descriptive power of the words of this special song.  

Lots of research shows that music, and particularly singing, can help people suffering from dementia – reducing anxiety and increasing cognitive ability  We have seen this first hand in our performances on the Spencer Ward. Patients are moved to tears, smiles and laughter by familiar songs. We have also seen patients who struggle with communication come to life during our performances and join in with our songs or give their own performance of a favourite song.

Members of the Kaleidoscope Community Choir would like to thank the staff and patients of the Spencer Ward for inviting us to perform for them – we hope to return very soon.

Claire Barlow Literary & Outreach Manager

Guest blog: Carol Bowns on Kaleidoscope Choir

Kaleidoscope Choir is looking forward to sharing the songs they have been working as a Buxton Festival Fringe event.  The main aim of the choir is to meet and have fun singing together rather than learn work to create a programme for a performance.  Some of us feel that creates unnecessary pressure, and yet…!  We’ve worked hard learning to sing in parts and create harmonies.  Quite an achievement that is worth letting others hear.  So we hope we have achieved a happy compromise with our showcases which we run like an open rehearsal.  It’s a chance to let an audience hear how we learn and remember our songs to bring them to performance level.  We also make sure there are opportunities for the audience to join in and find out how much fun it is singing together.  This was particularly moving when we visited patients and their relatives at Cavendish Hospital.

We rehearse Tuesday lunchtimes in the Dress Circle Bar at Buxton Opera House which is a lovely, intimate space – almost too much so, as with growing numbers, we’re beginning to feel a bit cramped!  But it’s a treat to hear comments from people who have heard us when they have visited the box office or passed by on the concourse.  With administrative and financial support from Buxton Festival, this is a valuable outreach collaboration between the two organisations.

Our Fringe event is on Tuesday 12 July, 1pm at United Reformed Church (Fringe venue 55).

Carol Bowns Kaleidoscope Choir Leader