Healing process set to music

Composer Ian Wilson has used the time spent with stroke patients to create a new work.

A GROUP of patients sit listening to the Irish Chamber Orchestra in the Charlie O’Toole Day Hospital at the Adelaide, Meath and National Children’s Hospital (AMNCH) in Tallaght. As well as playing popular classical pieces, the violinists, double bass player and soprano are in “open rehear-sal” of a new work for string quartet and soprano by composer Ian Wilson.

When we visit, the musicians and singer spent about 15 minutes of their hour-long performance practising a section of the piece. The finished work will be performed to an invited audience in the hospital at the end of Wilson’s 10-week residency.

Having visual artists and writers in residence in healthcare settings has become popular in the past decade or so, but bringing a composer into a hospital is a new departure. “I had read about how a piece of music was created about a child’s experience of migraine and performed by a chamber orchestra in the United States and, since we had already brought the Irish Chamber Orchestra into the hospital, I thought it would be interesting for a composer to create a work based on time spent in the stroke unit,” says Hilary Moss, arts officer at the hospital.

The section being rehearsed when we visit is based on a conversation Wilson had with a consultant in the stroke unit. Soprano Deirdre Moynihan sings: “We were taught in medical school that you have to be emotionless, objective but the longer I go on, the more I realise that’s not what people want . . . que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be.”

Some healthcare professionals, including geriatrician, Prof Des O’Neill, believe that the process of creating work in the hospital has a value in itself. “There is a societal inarticulacy about the experience of stroke – what happens on the journey for those who have had stroke and those going along with them. This gives society an informal reflection on how we need to respond,” says Prof O’Neill. (Times) >>>


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