This is our third consecutive year playing for venues in the “Music in House” concert series in the Netherlands. Stichting Muziek in Huis, which translates to Foundation Music in House or Home, is in its 11th year of operation, providing live music to venues where people live — i.e. their home. But these are not your average private homes. They are care-taking institutes such as nursing homes, psychiatric hospitals and clinics. All musicians are conservatory-trained and must pass auditions. The ensembles range from duos (like ours) to string quartets or other combinations. The foundation provides publicity, bookings, payments, and opportunities for musicians early in their careers.
Every location is different. Last Sunday 14th February several of guitarist Robert Bekkers’ former guitar students and their parents came to our concert at the Zandzee in Bussum. It was our second time there, and we remembered that it was on the top floor of an elderly home where residents live quite independently. This observation I gathered from the lack of wheel chairs and nurses. [Below: video taken just before our concert.]
Although the concerts are organised for the residents, their family and relatives are also welcome. No reservation is required beforehand, though it’s good to call to double check. Sometimes it’s extremely packed, standing room only. At other times, like last Sunday, it’s comfortable and spacious. There is usually a minimal charge to cover the cost of coffee and tea during the intermission.
Over the years, we have invited our own friends, students, and contacts to come. Their presence makes our performance more special. Knowing some in the audience creates that extra tension to push us further towards our goal.
I’m sure there are organisations such as SMIH elsewhere in the world. It is not only a service for the elderly audiences who are no longer able to live independently but also for the eager musicians willing to travel.
A violinist classmate from conservatory and I interviewed the SMIH founder about programming live music for the elderly audience. We learned that we should choose and order the music by mood not genre. [Link to one page abstract of this masters elective research paper.]
With this in mind, our piano guitar duo begin our new 2010 programme with Handel’s Arrival of the Queen of Sheba to warm up and cheer up. Then we settle everyone down with Vivaldi’s Winter. How are elderly audiences different from the younger generation? In the case of the Bussum concert where the age ranged from 16 to 90, I don’t think there was a difference.