In front of me are 16 musicians from the Orchestra Solidarite of the Resonance Foundation in Barcelona, The Spanish branch of the foundation created by my friend and colleague Elizabeth Sombart. The audience of about 300 is made up in equal part by severely disabled adults, young and old, Many in wheelchairs, and their minders. We are in a special facility that keeps and looks after people with severe disability.
They play earnestly, disregarding the occasional yelp or loud gargling of a member in the audience. After four short pieces, all noise has ceased. The piano is wheeled to the centre. Elizabeth walks to it, bows to the audience and with the orchestra, launches into the third movement of the Chopin concerto. The minders are visibly losing their watchfulness and tension. There is a palpable calm taking over the room.
Resonnance performs more than 400 times in six countries every year-Switzerland, Romania, France, Spain, Belgium and Lebanon. All these concerts, save two dozen, are for deprived audiences, locked up in prison cells, hospices, old age homes, facilities for the mentally disabled, for the ravaged. Students who study at Resonnance centres do so on condition that they will perform at these concerts without fee and with absolute dedication. This, and musical excellence, are the two aims of the foundation. Caring for society’s less privileged and an understanding of the healing power of music are dinned into young musicians till it becomes a part of their DNA. The orchestra has no one older than 25, with most still in college.
I have the possibility of chatting with the young musicians: “Ah, yes, we perform practically every Sunday. And it’s great to see the effect the music has on various groups. After this, it would be difficult to play for only concert audiences”.
Neuroscientists are revealing more and more about the power of music and the arts. We are a country that traditionally sings to our unborn children. Yet, I cannot imagine music being used as a strategy for healing on a national scale. Not musicians giving so much time and respect to the ‘dregs of society’.
Extract of an article by Mallika Serabhai ‘The Week’ dated 14 July 2013
Music is essence of life. Not only stimulates disabled and mentally challenged, music is an instrument of unity globally. Music shuns hatred and divisiveness. Music is a life to all living beings. It has been proved beyond doubt milking animals yield gets enhanced, if played around the fields the crops give better results, sugarcane yields are greatly affected specially the sugar content. Experiments have proved light soft and classical music played yields the best results for milking animals and crops.