Hear and Now

Hear and Now is our award-winning intergenerational community project.

Dancers at Hear and Now

Hear and Now unites young and old in music making, dance and movement.  We have developed the project over the past 10 years with specialist partners in Bedford and Leicester.

“It’s made me very happy coming here, and I’ve felt much more ‘not alone’ with memory loss.”

Music 4 Memory participant (Bedford), 2015


Hear and Now 2019

Watch excerpts from Hear and Now's 10th anniversary performance

About the project

Hear and Now is a unique musical collaboration between older people living with dementia and their carers; young singers and instrumentalists from grassroots community organisations and local primary schools; and members of the Philharmonia Orchestra.

Through a series of workshops, participants contribute spoken and musical ideas, emotions, movement, memories and ambitions. This creative process provides a therapeutic element for participants living with dementia, improves understanding and communication with younger participants, and enables isolated people to build valuable relationships with others from their local community.

Through facilitated discussions on stereotypes, memory, and shared language between different generations and cultures, combined with creative music workshops, participants provide the inspiration for, and directly contribute to, the music and performance elements of the final piece.

Since 2009, over 900 participants have taken part in Hear and Now across our Bedford and Leicester residencies.


Hear and Now 2016

Watch a film about the 2016 edition of the project

Key features

A platform for participants to create their own original music, lyrics and movement via discussion, reminiscence and creative workshops.

Mentorship opportunities and peer-to-peer support.

A collaborative, safe environment in which to share experience and challenge stereotypes.

Young instrumentalists receive coaching from Philharmonia musicians, and play side-by-side with members of the Philharmonia in performance.

An associated research project with University of Bedfordshire to assess the impact of working intergenerationally on the health and well-being of participants and professional artists – a sector-leading initiative among UK orchestras – was published in spring 2020.

Research project with the University of Bedfordshire

In 2019, the University of Bedfordshire undertook a small-scale research project investigating the effects of taking part in Hear and Now on the wellbeing of participants, carers, artists and facilitators. Through focus groups and workshop observation, the team recorded measurable improvement in wellbeing among all groups. Their conclusion recommended Hear and Now as a model of best practice within the sector.

View University of Bedfordshire research report

For more information about the Philharmonia’s work with community groups and families and how to get involved, please contact Lucinda Al-Zoghbi, Learning & Engagement Project Manager on 020 7921 3923 or lucinda.alzoghbi@philharmonia.co.uk.

Partners & supporters

Hear and Now in Bedford is co-produced with Orchestras Live and presented in partnership with Fusion Youth Singing, Tibbs Dementia Foundation’s Music 4 Memory and the University of Bedfordshire, with support from Bedford Music Hub, Bedfordshire Music Trust and Bedford Music Co-operative.

Previous supporters of Hear and Now in Bedford include:
Andor Charitable Trust
The Arts Society
The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust
House of Industry Estate
The Lynn Foundation

McLay Dementia Trust
The Neighbourly Charitable Trust
Orchestras Live
St John’s Hospital Trust
The Wixamtree Trust

Hear and Now in Leicester is supported by De Montfort University, the Philharmonia’s ‘Principal Partner’ in Leicester.

The project is presented in partnership with Leicester Musical Memory Box and Hazel Community Primary School.