Mid Suffolk’s community spirit inspires ‘Musical Memories’

Months of musical workshops came to a crescendo in Stowmarket after a long-running partnership between Mid Suffolk District Council, national charity Orchestras Live and a renowned professional orchestra.

The ‘Musical Memories’ programme is run by musicians from Britten Sinfonia. Since December, the musicians have been holding workshops with older residents and people living with long-term health conditions, such as dementia and Parkinson’s, across the district.  

Each workshop was designed to tackle isolation, particularly in rural parts of the district, and bring people together through the joy of live music and sharing musical memories.

Sessions were held in Debenham, Thurston, Stowmarket, Eye and Barking, and include care settings as well as community groups and buildings.  Here, musicians performed a range of popular tunes and even co-created a new piece of music with the help of workshop leader Raphael Clarkson and the residents attending.  

On Monday, 18 March, hundreds of people who took part in the workshops gathered at the John Peel Centre for a culmination event, celebrating the end of the project and all the new relationships which had been made during the workshops.

Britten Sinfonia then performed the new, co-created piece of music, ‘Community Spirit’ and entertained the audience with a number of well-known hits. 

Cllr Andy Mellen, leader of Mid Suffolk District Council, said:

“It’s been a real privilege working with Orchestras Live and Britten Sinfonia over the past few months. Together, we’ve been able to put on a series of excellent musical workshops that have really captured the imaginations of the residents who took part.

Coming together at the John Peel Centre was the perfect way to sign off on this programme and I couldn’t be happier to see so many people turn up and share in this truly special moment.”

Stuart Bruce, senior creative producer at Orchestras Live, said:

“Orchestras Live and Mid Suffolk District Council have co-produced many exciting orchestral projects together, and Musical Memories has been another wonderful example of how world class musicians can engage and inspire people living in rural communities. 

Britten Sinfonia and Raph Clarkson have brought some really special creative experiences to the groups involved, supporting their health and wellbeing, and we will be looking to build on this work over the coming months.”
Participants attending Musical Memories event in Stowmarket