A dementia-friendly concert series: Welcoming, Inclusive, & Professional.
Songhaven was launched in early 2017 to give people living with dementia (and their carers and companions) the dignity of high-calibre professional music concerts, in an inclusive and relaxed atmosphere. Songhaven is run by opera-singer and event programmer, Vivien Conacher.
At Songhaven, every effort is made to ensure that audience members feel comfortable, understood, and valued. Our audiences are encouraged to respond to the music as they choose – singing along and moving to the music are warmly welcomed and never viewed as disruptions.
Songhaven concerts are a manageable 40-minutes in length and take place monthly on a Saturday afternoon. The events are free to attend (with an optional donation at the end).
Each Songhaven concert features two professional singers and a pianist who perform in formal concert dress. The repertoire includes classical and operatic selections, popular songs from the past, and tunes from the classic musicals. Our artists give brief spoken introductions for each item they perform, and we also provide clear large-print programmes for people to follow during the concert, and to take home with them afterwards.
We finish every concert with an energising singalong item, followed by afternoon tea. The post-concert atmosphere is fantastically social, with artists and audience members mingling together and connecting over their favourite music. We also make sure to note any song requests to include in future concerts.
Songhaven takes place at Lumen Church & Cafe in Bloomsbury. It is an accessible venue, in a central location. The Lumen Cafe staff are an integral part of the Songhaven team, and we also have a group of volunteers to meet & greet people as they arrive.
We have gained a larger and devoted following, with audience members coming back time and time again for our concert experiences. As a result, people are getting to know one-another - there is a very real sense of community that has developed over the past year and a half.
How would this funding have an impact on your community?
A grant of £500 would fund the afternoon tea at two Songhaven concerts this year, feeding 120 audience members.
Songhaven afternoon teas are professionally catered by Black Olive Cooks at the Lumen Cafe, and include delicious cakes and sandwiches as well as freshly made tea and coffee.
The afternoon teas are a vital element of our events, as they provide an opportunity for social interaction. Dementia can be an isolating condition, with shame, stigma and embarrassment preventing some older people from participating in social activities they used to enjoy.
As Songhaven is a safe space, where we all understand the challenges of dementia, people can relax and feel part of a community where they are accepted and valued.
We know that we make a difference, because our audience members tell us time and time again! These events mean a lot to people but they cost a lot to deliver. This grant would be a huge help to us!
""We love these concerts especially for the impeccable standard of performance given in an atmosphere of relaxed generosity, inclusivity and love.
My partner responds to music with his whole body and soul so its wonderful to be in a space where his responses are welcomed and understood as appreciation and expressions of joy.
We love to then afterwards have time with other participants to share our pleasure - deepen our connections with people and develop new friendships which leaves us buzzing and feeling part of a community and not isolated with the exhausting complexity of the impact of Alzheimers on us as individuals and as a family.
The food and fellowship are excellent and make for a highlight of the week!! Thank you. ""