RNIB and Handel House Museum - a Unique Partnership

RNIB and Handel House Museum - a Unique Partnership


HandelHouseMuseumand RNIB - A Unique Partnership for blind and partially sighted musicians.

Music: opening of Graininess and Sheen by Kerry Andrew, Composer-in-Residence at the HandelHouseMuseum.

Claire Parker (CP): Learning and Events Oficer, HandelHouseMuseum.

CP: My Name's Claire Parker and I'm the Learning and Events Officer at the HandelHouseMuseum. When we have tours with people who are partially sighted, it's much more hands on; we're touching things, we have to describe things in a different way. So, we'll touch the fabrics, we'll feel the wooden panelling, we'll compare the textures, we'll open and close the shutters at the windows. It makes you be more aware of your surroundings and tune into the squeaks, the floorboards which are all over the place, I mean, it's not a quiet house!

Some of the rooms in the house that we visit when we're wandering around: Probably most important is the composition room. It's quite a small space and it could be easily overlooked, but that was the space where Handel wrote a huge amount of his music, including really famous pieces like Messiah for instance. Like many composers at the time, Handel wrote loads more in the Summer than he did in the Winter because there was just much more light during the day.

The performance room, Handel's practice and performance room: That's the room where we have our concerts today so it's brilliant for us to be able to bring back to life the space which was once the room where Handel used to have his rehearsals.

Kerry Andrew (KA): Composer and Performer

KA: I'm Kerry Andrew, a composer and performer and I'm the fourth Composer-in-Residence here at Handel House. Working with musicians at the Royal National Institute of the Blind has really reminded me that it's more important to focus on the sound that you really want as a composer as opposed to what it looks like written down because I can get fixated on producing perfectly notated scores and it's just not as important; it's about following your ear and being more intuitive.

Music: opening of Love's Philosophy by Kevin Satizabal, performed by Juliet Fraser (soprano), James Risdon (recorder) and Paul Ayres (harpsichord).

Kevin Satizabal (KS): Composer

KS: My name's Kevin Satizabal and I am in my fourth year of an undergraduate degree studying composition at Birmingham Conservatoire. The piece "Love's Philosophy" which is in performance I found very interesting because I was given a poem which was the Shelly Love's Philosophy poem to set to music. For me personally, I'm very grateful for everyone here for helping me over the last few years write my music and for me to be able to physically see it in a Braille score. It's been a fantastic experience for me and I hope I will be able to keep coming back in the future.

(audience applause for Kevin's composition.)

Music: opening of the final Allegro from Sonata for Recorder and continuo in A minor by G.F. Handel, performed by James Risdon (recorder) and Paul Ayres (harpsichord).

James Risdon (JR): RNIB Music Officer.

JR: My name's James Risdon and I'm the music officer at the Royal National Institute of Blind People. I work in our music advisory service where we support the music-making of blind and partially sighted people.

Music: part of Graininess and Sheen by Kerry Andrew, Composer-in-Residence at the HandelHouseMuseum.

JR: Handel started to lose his sight around seven or eight years before he died. He was a very prolific composer all the way through his life and a large inspiration for him was being able to read the works of other composers and indeed to refer back to his ownworks, and the onset of his sight loss meant he was no longer able to do this. It also influenced the kind of work he did, so he wasn't able to compose as much, but he did continue his performing work and he would improvise for example the solo passages of his organ concertos and so-on. But it did have a profound impact on his life, certanly.

JR: Well I think one of the reasons I think it is such a relevant partnership between RNIB and Handel House Museum is that now, people think of Handel the musician and composer, not Handel the blind composer, and I think now with our partnership and our work, we are allowing participants to come here and concentrate fully on the music and the sounds.

CP: I think some of the things we've achieved through this partnership are because of the continuation. We've been working together for so lon that it's been building and building and getting better every year.

To find out more, visit handelhouse.org or rnib.org.uk