New Harmonie's 15th Birthday

New Harmonie is a Sussex based group of musicians celebrating its 15th birthday in 2013. Originally known as Horsham Wind Ensemble it became a charity and changed its name in 2007. Its founder Dr Geoffrey Richardson said ' In the early years, the group' s main activity was giving public concerts in village halls mainly throughout Sussex. Nobody knew about us and it was a struggle to get funding and audiences. Today, there are over twenty top class musicians associated with New Harmonie some working on grant funded projects and others coming together in informal octets, sextets, quintets, quartets and trios for the enjoyment of playing together. We have a very large library of wind music some composed especially for us by several composers who are associated with the group' .

Since 1998, New Harmonie has raised over £265,000 in grants from Trusts, Foundations, Companies and Governmment agencies to support its work in Sussex. Grants for concerts are much more difficult to obtain in today's climate but since 1998, the full ensemble (2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns) has toured to give at least three concerts each year mainly in Sussex venues. The theme for these concerts has been ' Something old, something new' (a mix of classical and modern) and ' The Golden Age of Popular Song and Dance' featuring specially commissioned arrangements of dance band music from the 20s, 30s and 40s. With the generous support of funders, New Harmonie quintets toured eight venues in 2005 with ' World War Two' and more recently twenty seven venues ' From Tin Pan Alley to Abbey Road' in words and music.

New Harmonie has taken music/drama workshops into mainly rural schools. Robert Browning' s ' The Pied Piper of Hamelin' was set to music for oboe, clarinet and bassoon with narrator and run in 45 Sussex schools involving 2500 children.

St. Leonard and the Dragon of Horsham' was a sequel with music/drama workshops run in fourteen primary schools and ten Horsham Brownie packs. ' A Smuggler' s Tale' based upon 18th century smuggling in Sussex with commissioned verse and music has been run as music drama workshops in seven rural primary schools and three Brownie troops. The difficulty in obtaining grants has adversely affected this part of our work in recent years.

However, since 2003, New Harmonie has run 66 music/drama workshops in most of the Special Schools in West Sussex. Projects have included ' Animal Magic' , ' The Grand Ball' , ' Minibeasts' and ' The Circus' working with over 350 children disadvantaged by a whole range of physical and medical conditions. In 2011-12 the players ran music/drama workshops over 6 weeks in each of Newick House, Queen Elizabeth 2 and Ingfield Manor schools. The project was ' The Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games' . Funding has now been received to enable the group to run music/drama workshops in two Sussex Special Schools - the new Woodlands Meed school at Burgess Hill and Ingfield Manor Billingshurst based upon ' The 60th anniversary of the Queen' s Coronation' .

Quintets and Quartets have run over 50 live music workshops in 24 residential homes and day care centres throughout Sussex both for relaxation and to encourage regular exercise, dancing and singing. New Harmonie has provided live music for rehabilitation programmes in 21 Falls Clinics in Horsham Hospital and 3 Cardiac Rehab Unit clinics in Crawley Hospital. Working with Physiotherapists and Nurses, our evaluations have shown that exercise routines have proved to be much more enjoyable and effective when patients work and interact with live musicians.

Most recently, New Harmonie players have developed skills working with dementia patients both in Care homes and in the Iris Ward of Horsham Hospital. This latter project involved a clinical psychologist, occupational therapy and nursing staff. assessing the impact of live musical activities as part of a cognitive stimulation programme to increase well-being. The project ran for 10 weeks and to quote one carer attending alongside her husband "The effect of your music is transforming"

Looking ahead, Dr Richardson said "We are extremely grateful to all the organisations that have provided us with grants over the years. Without these funds we could not have carried out so much worthwhile work in our local communities. We now have sufficient funds to carry on through 2013. The Coronation project in the two special schools will be very exciting and rewarding for all those taking part. For the first time we will be working in St Catherine' s Hospice in their day care unit. We will extend our work with dementia patients at Linfield (Worthing), Stildon BrendonCare (East Grinstead) , Mill View (Crawley) and return to the Iris Ward of Horsham Hospital in the autumn. New Harmonie Trustees and players have, I think, much to celebrate "

 

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