Singing Aloud with the Welsh National Opera

Kate Woolveridge leads the choir

Carers and their relatives with dementia took part in an exciting project during 2011.

From April to July the Welsh National Opera, in collaboration with the Cardiff and Vale branch of the Alzheimer’s Society, hosted a residency project for the group, to create a musical experience based on WNO’s production of Turandot.

Group members benefited greatly from the experience of Mezzo Soprano Kate Woolveridge, whose enthusiasm and energy added to the enjoyment of each session. The emphasis was on having fun, not perfection, so no one worried if they hit a wrong note!

Denise Stephens, who is a carer for her husband, Mike, explained how participation in the choir has proved beneficial to them both. “With a diagnosis of dementia, both sufferer and carer experience a loss of confidence, and the focus is often on negative aspects of the disease. Being part of the singing group has helped us to focus on the positives, in other words what Mike can do, as opposed to what he can’t do”.

A DVD has now been produced as a record of the residency project, and this was launched at a special event held at Cardiff City Stadium on 26th September. Following an introduction by Dawn John, Manager of the Cardiff and Vale branch of the Alzheimer’s Society, Dr Rosie Tope spoke of the benefits many clients with dementia had experienced both during and after the sessions. For some, she said, communication ability improved significantly, helped by the obvious enjoyment of singing with the choir.

The group will come together again to begin autumn rehearsals on Monday evenings, beginning 3rd October, and new carers and their dependent relatives are very welcome to join the group. If you would like more information, please contact Dawn John at the Alzheimer’s Society on (029) 2043 4967