Continuing the Conversation

Continuing the Conversation is a project exploring how music therapy can inform new compositional ideas and actively engage older people – including those who are living with dementia – in the creative process.

The first phase of the project was a series of music therapy sessions in autumn 2019, led by HCPC-registered music therapist Megan Brand, which enabled residents, relatives and carers at Springfields Residential Home in Bridestowe, Devon to engage in musical dialogues, and encouraged confidence in relatives and carers to use music therapy techniques in day-to-day care and communication.

In spring 2020, funding from the PRS for Music Foundation then enabled La Folia to commission a new piece by composer Richard Barnard in response to source material gathered during the music therapy sessions. The piece, entitled ‘Springfields Songs’, takes inspiration from music and lyrics in the audio recordings of the sessions, and from Richard’s own interactions with the participants when he visited Springfields in October 2019.

One participant reflected: ‘I think this project may have benefited me as much as it has Mum. Memories have been encouraged and revived and to a certain extent relived. But most importantly it has been an opportunity to engage with Mum and do an activity with her that has brought topics of conversation (and snippets of scandal) that might never have been explored otherwise.’

In the final phase of the project, Springfields Songs was premiered by Helen Charlston (mezzo-soprano), Sarah Homer (clarinet) and Bryony Moody (cello) at St Ambrose church in Bristol on 22 July 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic. Film-maker Camilla Adams recorded the performance, which can be watched in full below. Click here to download the Springfields Songs libretto.

Film by Camilla Adams

The music therapy sessions were supported by Viscount Amory’s Charitable Trust, ESG Robinson Charitable Trust and Devon County Council. The ‘Springfields Songs’ commission was supported by PRS for Music Foundation. The recording session was supported by St Ambrose church, Elmgrant Trust and Golsoncott Foundation.