The aims of the project were to:
- host and facilitate a residency with composer Ian Wilson in the Stroke Unit of AMNCH;
- produce a new composition informed by and inspired by the nature and experience of stoke, stroke care and treatment and the hospital;
- building on the success of a residency in 2006, to bring the Irish Chamber Orchestra back to the hospital, and to continue developing the concept of live professional performances in an acute hospital context;
- present a new perspective of the experience of stroke through the medium of music, and bring greater understanding of this experience and the realities of living with stroke to the general public.
The aims of the artist were to:
- gain a broad view of the nature and experience of treatment in the Stroke Unit from the perspective of patients and staff;
- create a new composition inspired by and informed by these observations and experiences.
Composer Ian Wilson made ten weekly three-hour visits to the Stroke Unit. He recorded interviews with patients and staff and experienced many aspects of the stroke service including ward rounds, team meetings, x-ray conferences, and treatment sessions in physiotherapy and speech therapy. Stroke patients were also visited in the Intensive Care Unit and the Accident and Emergency Department. Over this period, the composer’s observations, and the thoughts and feelings of participants were transcribed to form the basis of instrumental and song movements for a new composition for soprano and quartet.
Each fortnight during the project, four members of the Irish Chamber Orchestra and soprano Deirdre Moynihan gave an open rehearsal of the latest movement of the work for patients and staff in the Charlie O’Toole Day Hospital. Ian Wilson introduced each new movement and explained the background to the piece, sharing the experience or conversation which inspired it.
During these open rehearsals, the musicians and soprano also performed popular works to entertain the audience from a more familiar repertoire including Handel, Vivaldi, Bach and Strauss. Members of the orchestra introduced the music and talked with patients in the audience between playing. On average twelve patients attended each of the four sessions which lasted one hour. Patients and staff moved freely in and out of the room during the performances and their feedback and input was sought on the work.
An independent evaluation was carried out by Nicola Dunne. The evaluation methodology was qualitative. Comments were invited from key stakeholders via interviews and focus group meetings. The evaluator was also granted access to the composer’s project journal.
The report was circulated widely in arts, arts and health and medical audiences.
The key outcomes of this project are as follows:
- Composition of high quality original music work entitled Bewitched for two violins, viola, double bass and soprano.
- A residency in the Stroke Unit developed the composer’s practice conceptually and also had positive impact on his personal development.
- The new composition helped staff to understand the emotional and psychological issues a patient with stroke may experience.
- Live music performance by professional musicians improved the moods of patients, and enriched their experience of hospital treatment and care.
- The shared experience of music performance enhanced relationships and communication between patients, and between staff and patients.
- The project increased patients’ access to the arts and improved their understanding of performance, music composition and the rehearsal process.
- Live music performance enhanced the working environment for the staff.
Documentation and Dissemination
After four open rehearsals, Bewitched, the new seven-movement composition was premiered by Deirdre Moynihan and members of the ICO in the Charlie O’Toole Day Hospital, an Age Related Unit at AMNCH, in November 2010, to an audience of patients, staff and invited guests.
The first public performance was given at a major international arts and health conference at the Royal Irish Academy on June 15 2011.