Mezzo-Soprano Lyn O’Hara has been working with Music in Hospitals & Care in the North of England since 2013, performing nearly 200 concerts and music sessions for the charity. Her musical delivery is warm, inclusive and fun, drawing people in both with her beautiful voice and good humour. Her wide repertoire includes songs from the shows and silver screen, plus well known songs like Scarborough Fayre and Dance to your Daddy, which are a real hit with people living with dementia as well as long term patients on a variety of hospital wards.
How did you come to start working with Music in Hospitals & Care?
I grew up in a musical family with a lot of elderly relatives. I was aware from a very young age that music made us all happy and over-rode any worries or problems. It always gave us a common link; something to discuss and enjoy. As a teenager a teacher encouraged me and some other students to go out into the community. We regularly performed in care homes and groups for the disabled.
Many years later having toured in musicals, performed in plays and sung on ships, I met pianist Tim Abel and trumpeter Jonathan Scully who both talked at some length about Music in Hospitals & Care – it was as though a light had been switched on. They felt I was the right “fit” and encouraged me to audition. Thank goodness I did!
What are some of your highlights?
From a personal point of view it’s the diversity of venues and activities. I cannot stress how much I’ve enjoyed developing different ways of performing and interacting. Recently I’ve been working with a wonderful guitarist, Les Orchard, and we visit hospitals and sing bed-to-bed. It relieves the stress of being in hospital, takes patients’ minds away from not just their illness but the noise of the machines and the constant streams of people who through necessity have to move around the ward. Suffice to say you are definitely aware of the brevity of life, how precious it is and how music touches the very ill whose only communication may be a facial mannerism or touch of a hand.
Celebrating special days such as birthdays and V.E Day are also a joy to plan and be a part of. An unexpected highlight has been the great relationships that have formed with other MiHC musicians. Adam “We could always do this one in Jazz style” Hutchins was the first accompanist I was ever paired with and continues to be a life-long friend.
Another occasion that sticks in my mind is performing with accompanist Rachel Steadman at a Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre in a terraced house. We entered to find just four people with two young carers. One was asleep and the others looked very unhappy as we unpacked our gear, with one walking out before we had even started. As we got to our third number, James Taylors “You’ve got a Friend”, the transformation and outpouring of emotion I will never forget; it became one of my most memorable experiences.
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