My 2016 album Monday to Friday was commissioned for Beaumont Care (Brisbane) and composed for people living with dementia.

Developed in consultation with dementia specialists including Professor Elizabeth Beattie (Queensland University of Technology) and Tara Quirke, the work included music intended for listening at different times of day, throughout the week.

Monday to Friday (scored for flute, viola, vibraphone and piano), aimed to cater for the varying moods of dementia patients in the morning, afternoon, evening and late at night.

As well as providing a calming atmosphere, the music endeavoured to serve a practical utility, ranging from cues for daily routines through to heightening one’s awareness. Monday to Friday was commissioned by the late Linda Beaumont, the proprietor of Beaumont Care, who passed away in August 2023.

Following on from composing Monday to Friday, the theme of ‘healing’ has subsequently informed my creative approach towards several compositions including Sortie for solo piano, along with a trilogy of works inspired by the poetry of Tagore, comprising: When I stand before thee at the day’s end for solo violin and strings, composed for Kirsten Williams and the Canberra Symphony Orchestra; the song-cycle Stray Birds composed for German baritone Birger Radde; and The Crossing of a Sea composed for the Melbourne-based Syzygy Ensemble.

Now, nearly 10 years on from the initial invitation to compose music for use in dementia care, my opportunities to develop musical works for the health sector have continued in various and in some cases, rather unanticipated ways.

In early 2023 I served as musical director for To Whom I May Concern, a verbatim theatre work, presented by the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Group Homes Australia in association with Dementia Australia and the University of New South Wales. The work tells stories of experiences of people living with dementia. These stories were scripted as “letters” addressed to friends and loved ones.

These letters were then read aloud by a wonderfully brave cast and interspersed with selected music. The soundtrack featured my own String Quartet, Stray Birds and Monday to Friday alongside some classics of Schumann and Mendelssohn.

To Whom I May Concern. Photo supplied

The forthcoming recital of my chamber works on 16 May in The Studio at ACO Pier 2/3 has essentially developed out of To Whom I May Concern and will culminate in an unabridged concert version of my String Quartet featuring ACO violin Ilya Isakovich, violinist Tim Yu, violist Beth Condon and cellist Daniel Yeadon. Saxophonist Andrew Smith [Nexas Quartet] will also join me to perform an older work Constancies.

Bookending the evening will be a selection of solo piano pieces including Monday III from Monday to Friday along with Sortie and Pas de deux from the National Youth Ballet Company production Au revoir mon ami.

Especially for this program I have composed Mneme for solo piano in memory of Linda Beaumont.

As well as being a visionary advocate for the arts in the space of dementia and aged care, Linda was an extraordinary supporter of my work. In addition to commissioning Monday to Friday and Sortie, Linda also commissioned the String Quartet which would later go on to feature in To Whom I May Concern.

Mneme is my own humble musical thank you and farewell to Linda, inspired by the kindness and generosity which she extended to so many people.

Cyrus Meurant presents a recital of his chamber works in The Studio at ACO Pier 2/3, Walsh Bay, Sydney on 16 May. Tickets here.

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