Queensland Symphony Orchestra has launched a new large-scale community outreach program, aimed at connecting Queensland communities with the many benefits that come from engaging with music. QSO’s Health and Wellbeing Program is a long-term initiative, with partnerships on corporate, research and community levels to help work towards a better understanding of music’s power on communities.

Health and Wellbeing Program

William Barton and Children from Narbethong State Special School. Photo Supplied.

“QSO takes such pride in performing in the Concert Hall and at venues, stages and open spaces across Queensland, and we believe another priority is harnessing the power of this music into a multi-faceted wellbeing program that can be the envy of all,” said QSO Chair, Chris Freeman. “We started this journey in 2019 and in 2020 we consolidated with significant work with organisations such as Narbethong Special School, various Brisbane hospitals and schools and aged care facilities all over the state, and now we can announce it as a formal program for the company.” 

The program was officially launched at QPAC on Friday, 3 September with program partners, families, and children from the Narbethong State Special School in attendance. The launch featured a performance from acclaimed Australian didgeridoo virtuoso William Barton, and QSO guest principal harpist Lucy Reeves.

“Channelling the huge potency of music into real outcomes for our audiences, our musicians and communities and groups in need is the focus, and to realise this, we are thrilled to welcome Health and Wellbeing Queensland as our Principal Partner, Griffith University and the University of Queensland as our Research Partners, and both Narbethong Special School and the world leading Hear and Say Centre as Community Partners,” said Freeman.

The program involves various community-based performances, ensemble visits, and applied research and evaluation into the benefits of musical engagement in a community. Across the state, outreach programs will cover hospitals, child-care centres, schools, mental health units, residential aged care and palliative care homes and detention centres. The program will also include corporate integration programs, tracking how music can support healthy work environments. 

“Never have we needed the power of music more than in 2021. We are learning to live with COVID-19, but with this comes heightened levels of anxiety and uncertainty and an economic pause that has affected all sectors of society. We look forward to sharing more throughout the year.”

This new program builds upon QSO’s already established outreach and engagement programs. The challenges that faced live performance in 2020 brought about the launch of We’re Sharing The Joy,  a statewide ‘give-back’ program, with impromptu performances by the orchestra throughout the state for nominated fellow Queenslanders. The orchestra received over 300 nominations for community members to receive performances, with the first performance taking place at Brisbane’s Narbethong State Special School, a school catering to 87 children with vision impairment and other special needs.

Health and Wellbeing Program

William Barton with children and family from Narbethong State Special School. Photo Supplied.

“Seeing students’ reactions to music is one of the highlights of my work. We all know music is a universal language. Music speaks the language of French, Sudanese, Japanese and every other language in the world, including the language of disability. This is why we must keep the music playing, and understand it more deeply. We look forward to working together with the QSO to do just this,” said Lee Strickland, Special Education Music MDVI, Braille & VI Music Specialist at Narbethong State Special School.

More information about QSO’s Health and Wellbeing program can be found here.

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