“Here, We Reconnect” With Taiwan National Symphony Orchestra

In July 2019, Manchester Camerata delivered a series of music-making sessions as part of the “Here, We Reconnect” programme with Taiwan National Symphony Orchestra. The programme name encapsulates its purpose: an opportunity to come together, to explore connections that might have been lost, and to find mutual ground in a world where younger and older people are becoming increasingly more isolated.

Music was the medium for this exploration. Over four days, musicians from Taiwan National Symphony Orchestra and music therapists, composers, teachers and occupational therapists worked with Manchester Camerata to consider what ‘participatory music-making’ might mean for them when engaging with older people in Taiwan. They considered how to connect emotionally and physically through music, and why it might be important to engage with audiences away from the concert stage.

We aimed to open up an interactive dialogue with musicians, arts professionals, health professionals and people living with dementia, ultimately working towards a more inclusive society – an aim shared by British Council Taiwan. The musicians explored music in an impromptu way, considering techniques to facilitate group improvisation using orchestral instruments, percussion and voice. Most importantly, they aimed to be playful and creative.

After just four days of training and co-delivering workshops, the musicians visioned their own ideas for projects in their local area. For example, a harpist began delivering workshops at a care centre in their hometown, and a pianist is planning a music event to celebrate the anniversary of a local care home.

For Taiwan National Symphony Orchestra, this project was an opportunity to explore the approach, purpose and benefit of delivering community music projects with older people. The orchestra plans to continue developing the project in 2020 with Manchester Camerata, ultimately exploring how their musicians can make positive a impact on the lives of an increasingly ageing population.

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