Enriching Lives at Music Festival

Pendine Park were delighted to sponsor a special performance at Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod of Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street starring opera superstar Bryn Terfel.

The Welsh bass-baritone made a triumphant return to the Eisteddfod stage for the first time since 2006 and with a cast that included Welsh opera stars Wynne Evans and Shan Cothi.

And while Terfel was at his operatic best, showing he could act as well as sing, the unknowns that he had chosen from auditions to perform alongside him proved to be equally popular with the sold out audience.

Making the most of their chance under the spotlight were 14-year-old Vale of Clwyd schoolboy Dewi Wykes, Solihull soprano Lauren Morris, 21, and tenor Berwyn pearce, great-nephew of another Welsh legend, Sir Geraint Evans.

The next day a group of our talented residents and school children teamed up with a world class Halle orchestra at 2 musical workshops. And Wrexham FC even joined in!

The work we do with the Hallé is an integral part of our enrichment programme.

Steve Pickett, Education Director of the Hallé, said: "We've worked with the residents at Pendine Park for a number of years and having the opportunity to then showcase that activity to the public and to show what these people can do, not to concentrate on what they can't do, I think is a really brilliant".

Youngsters from schools across the region who were visiting the festival on its opening Children’s Day were invited into the workshops and joined in enthusiastically with the jam sessions, which were held in the VIP Lounge area.

As a warm-up, the Halle trio of Hugh McKenna on oboe and keyboard, violinist Caroline Abbott and cellist David Petrie played a selection of classical pieces and more upbeat numbers such as the main theme from the musical Oklahoma! while 14 residents, ranging in age from their twenties to nineties, clapped and swayed along in time to the music.

The tempo was varied throughout the hour-long sessions which had their grand finale when trio members handed round instruments including maracas, tambourines and bongo drums so that the Pendine residents and visiting schoolchildren could accompany them in a rousing rendition of the traditional Scottish piece Over the Sea to Skye, complete with howling wind and crashing waves.

One of the residents who helped keep up the beat was 95-year-old Edith Williams who said: "I’ve been taking part in the workshops with the people from the Halle for about three years and I enjoy them so much. Joining in today, especially as it’s been at the Eisteddfod, has been really good."

Another resident who lapped up the entertainment was 70-year-old Christine Jones. She said: "I was joining in with my tambourine and I really enjoyed myself. Playing and singing in these sessions with your friends is marvellous and it’s good that we can do it with fantastic musicians like the ones from the Halle."

Caroline Abbott from the Halle said: "All three of us in the trio who came along today work in the main orchestra and also do a lot of outreach work with care homes such as Pendine Park, schools and colleges, and the people we work with range from young children to those in their nineties. With elderly people there’s definitely something about music which taps into their memory and when we play a piece they know they love to join in. We were delighted to lead these two workshops at the Eisteddfod today, especially as there were also so many children who came along to watch and join in with us."

Mario Kreft, Proprietor of Pendine Park, said: "This is the first time we have held the workshops during the Llangollen Eisteddfod and it was great to see older people having their lives enriched through music in this way. This is the sixth year that we’ve been in partnership with the Halle and it’s been of great value as a mechanism for training staff and as a way of enhancing social care. It is a key element of our Enrichment Programme"

Artist in resident, Sarah Edwards added "The Hallé are amazing. They're world class musicians and they treat our residents with dignity and respect. It makes a huge difference to residents to be able to enjoy such fantastic music".