What is the role of a musician in society, beyond the realm of the concert hall? Members of the Britten Pears Young Artist programme, together with the Britten Pears Arts Community team embarked on a three day course to explore this question. This film captures them developing the skills, language and knowledge to start taking their work into the wider world.

The Young Artists came with a range of different experiences and pre-conceptions of what working in the community might look like. Tim Steiner and Yvette Riby-Williams, one of our Community Ambassadors, challenged them and pushed our young artists to think differently about how they might include community as an extension of their artistic output, and a core part of their future career.

Artists starting their career now have started to revolutionise the whole process of formal music making. It’s a much more inclusive and communicative and useful thing

Tim Steiner

Diary | Siân Dicker, programme participant

Here Siân Dicker, a Soprano and 2021-22 Britten Pears Young Artist, writes about her experience of working with the Community team on the Participate programme.

“Back in March 2020, amid fears of unemployment and a multitude of work cancellations, I started searching for alternative work. I ended up spending 13 months working as a carer, during which time I met the most incredible people. I would have a list of tasks to complete, ranging from assisting with personal care, medication and housework to cooking but without a doubt, the most important was companionship, particularly at a time when most of the people I was visiting were isolated from their friends and families.

Throughout the year I ended up singing regularly with a lot of my clients, for many of whom music was once a big part of their lives. I had one gentleman who insisted I sing an entire Puccini aria whilst hanging out his washing, and I even gave a mini recital for a couple whilst working my way through a pile of ironing! I quickly realised how valuable this was for the client, especially for those living with dementia. On days when making a real and genuine connection with someone was a little trickier, music helped us to bridge the gap and enjoy something together that didn’t require words or instruction.

When I joined the Britten Pears Young Artists cohort, I spoke to the team about the possibility of being involved in their community work. I was offered the opportunity to be involved with Participate, a series of music and heritage workshops for adults in areas local to Snape Maltings. These sessions are open to any adults living in the local area and are also designed to be suitable for those living with long term health conditions, including Dementia and Parkinson’s.

Connection is what these sessions are all about. We have all noticed the impact of the essential 'tea and cake' break in the middle of sessions, where participants are given time to chat. It's been really special to see friendships blossoming between participants throughout the weeks. Getting to know the Participate attendees has been great for us all; two participants even realised they were distantly related during a chat over a cuppa! The sessions have also provided some respite for carers and relatives coming along, giving them space to relax and enjoy making music and even providing ideas and songs to take home and try out. One regular participant, who attends as a caregiver with her friend, told me that they’ve been using some of the Participate activities at home during their morning routine to help with getting up and ready for the day.”

Dicker is combining her work in the community with the guidance she receives within the Britten Pears Young Artists Programme to curate an Aldeburgh Festival performance based on her experiences.

Community and music at their heart are built from the same things

Yvette Riby-Williams

Siân Dicker at a Participate session