Finding Memories through Music

Throughout March and April 2014, three Civic Orchestra musicians—Emma Koi (flute), Amy Hess (viola) and Desiree Miller (cello)—and CSO Mead Composer-in-Residence Anna Clyne collaborated in a Citizen Musician project with the staff of Mather Lifeways in Evanston, a memory care facility for elderly residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Over the course of six weeks, the musicians performed music for the residents—jazz standards and other popular music from their generation—while participating in arts therapy sessions led by Mather’s resident arts therapist, Caroline Edasis. Each session was recorded, and Clyne was able to use the recordings to create a story of music and memories as told by the  residents at Mather. The final piece, Mather Suite, combined the audio track, an accompaniment of arranged pieces performed by the musicians and a video with images of artwork created by the residents.

The project also featured the work of a young composer at the Merit School of Music in Chicago, Nhyta Taguchi, who composed Pitter Patter, a song inspired by one of the residents who expressed that when she hears music, she is “flooded with emotion.” The three Civic musicians performed Taguchi’s piece as a prelude to Clyne’s Mather Suite. The culminating event in April featured a performance of both works for the residents involved in the project and their families.

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