“Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.” So said the ancient Chinese philosopher, Confucius, and at St John’s Hospice we couldn’t agree more. 

That’s why, thanks to generous donations from the Mirabel Kelly Fund, we are able to invite talented musicians from the Royal Academy of Music to visit the hospice and bring some aural joy to our patients. 

Gosia Zwierzchowska playing the violin
Gosia Zwierzchowska playing the violin.

As one hospice nurse says, “The patients absolutely love the music, you can see that their spirits are lifted and they often ask when the next one will be.” 

Ali Floe, who works in the philanthropy department at the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth, coordinates the programme with the Royal Academy of Music. Ali says, “The music brings a sort of comfort and calm to all of the staff, patients and their families. Several students come back every semester claiming it’s their favourite venue and a place of pure music appreciation.

Yat Yi Huen playing viola
Yat Yi Huen playing viola.

“Normally, it’s calm classical music played on the harp, guitar, or flute and it resonates throughout the Unit. Patients often come out and have a little dance or just sit quietly and listen. The doors to all the rooms are open so even if the patients can’t get out of their beds, they can still enjoy the music.

“The recitals give them the opportunity to escape from the ward and lose themselves in the passion of the students. It’s truly a pleasure to see how they light up.”

The music programme has been running since 2015 and over that time there have been an array of gifted musicians who have given great pleasure to our patients. Below are just a few of the musicians to have visited recently:

Doroti Vincler playing flute
Doroti Vincler playing flute.

Doroti Vincler playing the flute“I keep coming back because every time I see them clap along or smile or engage with the music, it makes it all worth it. You can see them recognise the beauty in it.” Doroti Vincler (flute)

“Playing at the St John’s Hospice is always a truly moving experience – it allows me as a musician, to share the pure joy of music making with others.” – Gosia Zwierchowska (violin)

“I really enjoyed playing here, it was a wonderful experience to see the people enjoy the music and wanting to engage with it. It was so nice how they responded to the music, dancing and singing. This is something that is missing in the ‘ordinary’ recital and concert setting and I really loved to see that. It was a warm and friendly atmosphere and I felt like my music was really appreciated.“ – Marleen Hiemsch (cello)

Saki Kato playing guitar
Saki Kato playing guitar.

“I really enjoyed my time playing clarinet here. It’s amazing to see the joy and excitement in the patients’ faces. Although it can be challenging, it is a real honour to play there.” – Alexandra Thompson (clarinet)

“As a student training to be a professional musician, I can definitely say that playing here is one of the most important and wonderful things I could take part in. It really shows what a difference music makes to so many people; there were men and women dancing along, some crying and some smiling and mostly all reacting in some way. I am very grateful and hold great respect to the organisers of this project. I think that it is really amazing what a difference listening to a little bit of live music makes to someone’s day. I hope to be back soon!” – Inis Oírr (violin)