Case Study

Manchester Camerata

Manchester Camerata on using music to build community in areas with high levels of poverty and deprivation

One of our Paul & Nick Harvey Fund grantees, Manchester Camerata orchestra was awarded £31,800 which enabled the charity to support musical activities for people living with dementia.

The fund helped the charity to start a new dementia café at its home in The Monastery, Gorton. The dementia café gives local people living with dementia the opportunity to write their own music and express themselves, supported by its world-class team of Camerata musicians.

Manchester Camerata was also able to develop, adapt and bring all the benefits that Music in Mind has previously brought to care home residents and professional carers, but this time to family carers of those living with dementia at home.

Working and performing in Manchester worldwide since 1972, Manchester Camerata is renowned for its dynamic performances, innovative collaborations and pioneering community programme. Its purpose is to ‘make music that matters; make music for change’.

The orchestra pops up in all sorts of places and collaborates with a spectrum of artists attracting over 150,000 people every year to its concerts under the leadership of world-renowned conductor Gábor Takacs-Nagy.

Its concert season (September–May) is complemented by residencies throughout the North West, which provide international quality music-making in areas with little or no live orchestral music. Manchester Camerata’s community programme is at the heart of the orchestra’s activity.

By working in partnership with its long-term strategic partner, Orchestras Live, it has helped make even more impact with this work. The programme began over 20 years ago with the aim of using music as a tool to improve people’s lives, and its music-therapy-based work for people with dementia has been developed over the last 10 years through partnership and research with Professor John Keady at the University of Manchester.

New music is created by putting the participants at the centre of the creative process. Whether it is young people in schools or youth clubs, or people with dementia and their carers, all compositions and improvised pieces are created ‘in the moment’ by the participants, in conjunction with its world-class, professional musicians. These projects take place in schools, housing schemes, care homes and community settings across the North of England. Manchester Camerata’s work operates within cultural education and health and social care, and is especially focussed on areas of economic/social deprivation.

Its strategic priorities and overall aims for both older and younger members of the community are centred around creative music-making and its benefits, with inbuilt continuing professional development for teachers, professional musicians and healthcare professionals alike, in order to improve health and wellbeing.

Manchester Camerata moved into The Monastery, in Gorton, Manchester, in November 2020, and continues its aim of long-term intergenerational activity to positively impact a community with high levels of poverty and deprivation, but with great pride in the area in which they live.