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  • Writer's pictureThom Rowlands

Welcoming the dark

Updated: Mar 16

Musicians: Alice Zawadzki (violin & vocals) Ben Hazleton (bass) Nathaniel Keen (guitar) Arthur Lea (piano - via Zoom)

We like to mark the winter (and summer solstice) each year, celebrating the longest night, rather than mourning the shortest day.

On Tuesday 21st December, the garden of Bridgeside Lodge was illuminated with torches, creating a magical, Christmassy atmosphere. There was a real sense of anticipation as residents - wrapped up in hats and coats - made their way outside. Nat, Ben and Alice tuned their instruments (always more of a challenge in cold winter air!) and the evening began...

In the preceding weeks, activities manager Yvette had asked residents for their thoughts on the subject of "About The Dark". Many residents participated and readings of these were woven in to the music by the Spitz ensemble. We were interested to hear residents' perpectives on darkness, many of them speaking about calmness, introspection and peace, rather than the more common associations of sadness and death.

A medley of Christmas carols had been arranged by Alice. It segued neatly from song to song, the music never stopping. A growing sense of appreciation, collaboration and community rose and built between the attendant residents and staff, we all knew that we were part of something truly magical.

Prior to this, Alice, Ben and Nat played indoors as residents enjoyed a buffet and drinks. Pianist Arthur Lea was due to make it a quartet but unfortunately contracted covid a few days before the event (he's fine by the way). "Expect the unexpected" is one of our mottos and we weren't about to let this get in the way of a great party, so Arthur joined us via Zoom from his home studio in South London. He played the blues with JC and sent season's greetings to the residents who all said they missed having him there in person.

As we made our way outside to continue the celebrations, we took iPad Arthur with us and popped him on a music stand so he could enjoy (and conduct!) the rest of the music.

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