Our initial focus has been for the elderly and those who care for them but, so not to limit the potential reach of our initiative in its early stages, we are open to all ideas where our productions can bring joy and enhance connection amongst, those facing difficult times.
We use the term care settings in the broadest sense and we mean care in relation to both social and health care worlds. It could be argued that the importance of enhancing connection is an essential as is decent nutrition, irrespective of the age or health concern.
We welcome and encourage knowledge exchange and sharing between different fields and areas of interest.
Reaching High For Human Connection
Through great advances in living conditions and medicine involving major investment, we are extending people’s lives – but many question what is the point if the quality of that extra life isn’t good?
Solid scientific evidence shows how fascinating and challenging arts engagement contributes to health, wellbeing and independence. However, for various often complex reasons identified by high-level research, the level of arts provision in care settings can vary enormously.
How to bridge this gap: bring engaging performance, featuring professional artists who should be not be expected to perform for free, to those often overlooked yet who stand to benefit so much?
Our performances are professional yet accessible, relevant and intimate, truly engaging our audiences.
While opera is our primary medium, we invite collaboration with other music and art forms.
Why opera? This is where our own story began. We believe the singing voice has a significant role to play in bringing healing, meaning and inspiration. Emotional and psychological benefits are well documented, and recent findings demonstrate physiological changes too.
Some consider opera singers to be the olympic performers of singing. We aim to attract attention of olympic proportions to the health benefits of quality arts engagement for those often overlooked – our talented opera singers can help to do this.
HealthPitch is also a bid to raise awareness of what innovative partnerships can achieve: finding the holy grail in care together, which is human connection.
VIDEO: 6 Characters final rehearsal at the Claremont Project, 10th March 2017
The HealthPitch team is full of people who inspire, collaborate and help to make links.
HealthPitch has come about because of my mother’s unexpected illness. I relocated from abroad to be at Davina’s side in a rural village near Stonehenge for many months. Mum had the same terminal cancer that my father had had, and as she had nursed him, she knew, more or less, what lay ahead. I had no immediate support base, so cared for Mum mostly alone, 24/7, with little time or energy to decipher the unfamiliar and rather overwhelming systems. That time in that little village, where the average age was 75, were tough and very lonely.
However, we were enormously lucky to have Francesca and her friends, all professional opera singers, visiting regularly, bringing music and light into the home during this difficult, honest and treasured time. Mum loved to hear about their upcoming concerts, and when up to it, got involved taking measurements for costume requirements. At times when I was so anxious I battled to breathe, Francesca patiently took me through simple singing and breathing exercises.
Being a curious healthcare professional, I explored the fascinating links between health and music, particularly around the voice. Francesca and her friends lifted our souls and supplemented the limitations of conventional medicine. Having noticed how others in the area were, for various reasons, also vulnerable and isolated, I organised local soirees. My mother and I were determined we share this gift with others, hence the creation of Davina’s Fund: encouraging collaboration across boundaries, borders and disciplines between health, music and the environment.
I am a healthcare professional with some variations of career path: as a dietitian, I worked for Unilever in product development and marketing, as a physiotherapist I worked in Intensive Care and various high care units at top state and private hospitals in Cape Town. I completed a PostGrad Diploma in Marketing Management, and helped to pioneer healthcare initiatives involving collaborative, multi-layered networking, always seeking innovative solutions primarily through the ‘people factor’, to the many challenges in the state health sector in South Africa.
Often described as having the voice of an angel, Francesca also has an extraordinary gift of connecting with others in a way that makes them feel special. A wonderful combination that brought much happiness to Camilla’s mother.
Francesca Lanza is an award winning flautist and world-renowned and in-demand soprano. Trained at the Vivaldi Conservatory, and the Academia Musicale Chigiana, and masterclasses with Shirley Verrett, Elly Ameling, and Renata Scotto. Performance highlights include; the title-role in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor at the Festival International de Tamaulipas (Mexico), Donna Anna in the first modern revival of Il convitato di pietra by V.Righini (recorded by Bongiovanni), Queen of the Night in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte at the Semperoper in Dresden, and Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto and Elvira in Bellini’s I Puritani at the Korean Opera Festival in Seoul.
Besides her performances, she participates in extraordinary collaborations, including with the Museum Fondazione Cosso at Castello di Miradolo near Turin, and with Duda Paiva on “the weeds project” in Turin and Saarbrucken. Francesca also recorded a documentary for BBC Radio 4 that was aired in Spring 2017.
Director of Integration in Care (consultancy)
Annie has been closely involved having per chance heard Francesca and her friends sing when Davina’s Fund was just starting out, and instrumental in connections with the care sector.
Annie, Registered HCPC Social Worker, has an extensive background in all aspects of care from commissioning and care management to policy and front line provision with all user groups. She has an excellent appreciation of the care market and its financial and social constraints as well as a focus on the wellbeing of users and carers, so uses innovative and creative approaches across sectors to increase effectiveness. Her career includes co-founding the My Home Life Programme: quality of life in care homes with Help the Aged (now Age UK); CQC; Social Care Institute for Excellence; DH; Carers UK and Westminster Council. She is a trustee of NAPA (the National Activity Providers Association).
Dr Claire Garabedian
Research Associate, Association for Dementia Studies, University of Worcester
Claire unwittingly answered a phone call from Camilla in August 2016 and has since become integral to the HealthPitch as a mentor.
Claire Garabedian, a professional cellist and certified music practitioner, holds the uniquely titled post; ‘Associate Researcher in Creative Arts and Dementia’. Claire completed her PhD at the University of Stirling, which focused on the impacts of individualised live and recorded music for care home residents with dementia nearing the end of life, and their carer. Claire’s unique combination of qualifications provides for an understanding of both practice and research aspects regarding the rewards and challenges involved in working within these populations as well as within the creative art practitioner diaspora. Claire has been invited to present and join round-table panels regarding her research work throughout the UK, as well as in Europe and the USA. She is currently evaluating several projects that use creative arts with people who are living with dementia.
Dr Lindi van Niekerk
When Lindi is not half way round the world or busy with her PhD, she is always willing to help, whether it be insightful perspectives, interviewing and editing or chopping veggies late night for a next day function!
Dr Lindi van Niekerk holds a MSc in Public Health and is currently a PhD candidate at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She has been worked across different levels of the health system in South Africa implementing and researching innovative service delivery programmes. Most recently, she completed a multi-country project of across Africa, producing short films of local innovations developed at community-level.
Executive Director of NAPA (National Activity Providers Association)
Sylvie and her team at NAPA have provided HealthPitch with tremendous support from the outset, facilitating many of our visits to care settings. Sylvie’s advice to our singers on performing in care settings was a key point to the success of 6 Characters in Search of An Opera, and something we all took very much to heart.
Sylvie is the Executive Director of NAPA responsible for all aspects of the charities work. NAPA is recognised as the ‘thought leader’ around Activity Provision and Sylvie is the key influencer in achieving this.
Sylvie‘s hands on experience was gained working in a nursing home for older people and prior to that with Adults with Learning Disabilities. Since then she has worked with, and trained, hundreds of care staff from senior management to grassroots workers to raise the profile of the importance of meaningful engagement and a life full of love and laughter.
Filmmaker and Brand Manager
An experienced filmmaker and digital marketer, S-J brings over 20 years worth of business development experience to the team. Heading up all things corporate, marketing and storytelling, S-J continues to manage the HealthPitch brand and is Head of production for HealthPitchTV.