Music soothes the soul

David Ross-Smith has organised an afternoon of music on November 27 to raise money for Uniting AgeWell’s Music for David program.

A stirringly beautiful instrumental and vocal music concert is being held soon to raise funds for a program to support people living with dementia and their carers.

Music to Gladden the Soul features an impressive line-up of classical performers including pianist and composer Sam Hartley, cellist Luke Severn and coloratura soprano Natalie Grimmett, an artist with Melba Opera Trust.

The concert, at 3pm on Sunday, November 27, has been organised by pianist David Ross-Smith, who will be the accompanist for Natalie, as well as for soprano Nicky Wortley and baritones John Parncutt and Renn Wortley.

The concert is at the North Balwyn Uniting Church and will support Uniting AgeWell’s Music for David, a music therapy program helping people living with dementia and providing temporary respite for their carers. Participants are provided with individually curated playlists, and an MP3 device and headset that may help ease symptoms of dementia, including restlessness and agitation.

The program was established and named in memory of Rev David Hodges AM, a founding member of the Uniting Church in Australia in 1977 and a minister at Toorak Uniting Church until his retirement in 1983. David had dementia for the last six years of his life.

He was supported by his partner of over 30 years, musician Ross-Smith who became his fulltime carer.

Ross-Smith stumbled on the power of music to sooth those with dementia quite by accident.

As he watched David go through sundowning, the term used to describe agitation and distress experienced in the early evening by those living with dementia, he decided to put on a CD of classical music to lighten the mood.

And Ross-Smith was unprepared for what happened next. The muscles in David’s jaw relaxed and his features were transformed by joy as he was soothed by the beauty of his favourite composers. And it allowed Ross-Smith time to take a break.

“I always knew the power that music could evoke. But to see it in action was quite magical,” he explains.

And this experience, which happened more than a decade ago, has evolved into the program called Music for David.

Book online here or contact David on 0429 907 908. Tickets are also available at the door. Admission is $30 and $25 for concession holders.

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