Lifting the roof in Exmouth for the Alzheimer’s Society

The Starling Octet (from left): Sarah Pennington, Marion Wood, Zoe Fitzsimmons, Ben Pennington, Rich

The Starling Octet (from left): Sarah Pennington, Marion Wood, Zoe Fitzsimmons, Ben Pennington, Richard Mitchell, Mary O'Shea-Hayward, Malcolm Field and Neville Gibbings. The octet will be performing a charity fundraising concert of a cappella choral music for the Alzheimer's Society at Exmouth's Brixington Community Church at 7.30pm on Saturday, 30 November. - Credit: Archant

STIRRING renditions of 16th-century Italian madrigals will be lifting the roof at a fundraising charity concert in Exmouth at the end of November.

Performed by the Starling Octet, the concert of a cappella choral music is in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society.

The ticketed event (£6 in advance, £7 on the door) is at 7.30pm on Saturday, November 30, at Brixington Community Church, Churchill Road, Exmouth.

All monies raised from the concert will go to the Alzheimer’s Society.

The event also highlights the work of the charity’s local Singing for the Brain group.

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Meeting every Wednesday afternoon (2–4pm) at Brixington Community Church, Exmouth’s Singing for the Brain group allows those diagnosed with dementia and their carers to meet in a friendly, caring atmosphere where problems are shared and much fun is had through singing.

The weekly sessions help people with dementia to communicate, improving their mood and leaving them feeling good about themselves.

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Glenda Huggons has been the group’s musical leader since March 2011.

“Singing for the Brain is more than just a good, old ‘singalong’,” she said, “It’s based on music therapy principles and includes a range of activities as well as singing, which address many of the physical, emotional, mental and social needs of people with dementia and their carers.

“We have a lot of fun as laughter is an important by-product and is a terrific stress-buster. Our sessions tend to become the highlight of the week for many of those who benefit.”

Glenda came up with the idea of the fundraising concert having seen the Starling Octet perform.

“I’d never heard this kind of choral music before and was captivated,” she said. “I was inspired to bring this modest yet talented octet down to Exmouth and asked them to repeat the successful ‘Madrigali’concert.”

The octet – formed in Exeter three years ago – has a wide repertoire, including 16th-century Italian madrigals, Renaissance masses and motets, and contemporary classical music, such as the “Madrigali” suite. Written by US composer Morten Lauridsen, it will be featured at the Exmouth concert.

“I’ve worked in the care sector with people with dementia, and I know the positive impact that music can have in their lives,” said Sarah Pennington, one of the octet’s members.

“It’s a delight to be able to use our voices to support the work of the Alzheimer’s Society and their inspired Singing for the Brain project.”

There are around 13,000 people in Devon who have dementia. This number will rise, but with the right support, people can live well with the condition for many years.

As well as Singing for the Brain, Alzheimer’s Society in Devon offers other services, including the Devon Dementia Support Service, Memory Cafés, Carers Support Groups and a befriending service.

For more about the November 30 concert, call 01395 222981.

If you’re interested in Exmouth’s Singing for the Brain group, call Tim Gainsford on 01392 368886.

More information about the Alzheimer’s Society at or contact 0300 123 2029.

The Starling Octet’s website is:

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