Oz Clarke saddles up to support music therapy for people with dementia

UPDATE: Watch highlights of Oz & Armonico’s Great Bike Adventure: The Great British Bike Off 

Wine expert and TV broadcaster Oz Clarke is to get on his bike and cycle from Bournemouth to Coventry to help raise awareness of the benefits of music therapy for older people and those living with dementia.

The popular writer and TV personality, who is a former choral singer, will lead Oz & Armonico’s Great Bike Adventure: The Great British Bike Off – a four-day, 200-mile, ride across the country, from 11-14 September.  We will visit four care homes and retirement villages along the route, giving short, socially-distanced, performances of classical music to bring a little cheer to residents.

The event launches Armonico Consort’s partnership with The Alzheimer’s Society to deliver specialist music and singing therapy projects to support those living with dementia.

To support Oz & Armonico’s Great Bike Adventure 2020 please visit our Just Giving page

The first of these – Unlocking Baroque/Musical Memories – is a series of one-to-one live music therapy sessions for which our professional musicians have received specialist training from The Alzheimer’s Society’s Singing for the Brain project.  The musicians will be paired up with individuals living with dementia and their carers to help unlock memories through musical engagement, with the help of Remind Me technology.

Music has been scientifically-proven to offer mental health and well-being benefits for older people, helping to reconnect memory and alleviate anxiety in people living with dementia.

The new project builds on our existing resources for older people and those with dementia which include group singing sessions and a new library of online sessions, filmed during lockdown to help people isolated in their own homes and in care settings.

Oz Clarke is a long-time supporter of Armonico Consort and narrates the highly-successful concert series Oz & Armonico Drink to Music.  In 2019, he led Oz & Armonico’s Great Bike Adventure which raised over £15,000 for the charity’s work setting up choirs for children and young people.

Oz Clarke said, “Despite the pain of last year’s bike ride it wasn’t difficult to persuade me to get back in the saddle to support such a worthy cause which has the potential to change lives for people with dementia and their carers, helping them to reconnect through exploring musical memories.”

Christopher Monks, Artistic Director of Armonico Consort, said, “The benefits music can bring to people with dementia are inestimable and we are really grateful to Oz Clarke and to The Alzheimer’s Society for enabling us to take forward this important and rewarding area of work.  Unlocking Baroque/Musical Memories has also enabled us to retrain and repurpose our professional musicians giving them vital work for social and community benefit in these exceptional times.” 

Armonico Consort is especially grateful to Phillips 66 and JET, BluDog, Corratec Electric Bikes and Waitrose & Partners. Special thanks also to Mr Roger Medwell MBE, DL and Mr Baljit Shergill for generously supporting this event.

Oz & Armonico’s Great Bike Adventure: The Great British Bike Off takes place from 11-14 September 2020.  To support the tour please visit our Just Giving page.

Read more about our work for older people and those with dementia here