“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is ultimately to be at peace with himself.” – Abraham Maslow, American Psychologist
In 1874, Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky composed a suite of ten pieces known as Pictures at an Exhibition. It was inspired by the artwork of his friend Viktor Hartmann. Mussorgsky based his work on the drawings and watercolours that Hartmann produced during his travels to Italy, France, Poland, Russia and the Ukraine.
Since Hartmann’s artwork inspired Mussorgsky to create the music, what would happen if the idea was reversed and the music inspired art? Through Mount Royal Conservatory’s Arts and Culture program, Rolf Bertsh, the coordinator of the Academy Piano program, worked with United’s Garrison Green residents to find out.
One afternoon a week for four weeks, Rolf played parts of the suite, and residents drew pictures, quilted and wrote poetry to interpret what they heard. The result was an inspiring collection of artwork that lines the hallways at Garrison Green.
“I was pleased and, frankly, amazed at the results,” said Rolf, who is also artistic director and conductor with Calgary Civic Symphony. “There was a great deal of interest from the residents. They produced a wonderful scope and variety of painting, sketches – even a quilt and poetry!”
Rolf said the experience in working with the United residents made him think about creativity and how it can grow and deepen with the passage of time. “The talents demonstrated by the older adults and their willingness, even eagerness, to dare were remarkable. My own experiences, both in music and life, have led to more understanding and more profound expression. Will I stay active into my 80s and 90s? Absolutely! I expect to continue to be active at all levels. I don’t have a ‘best before’ date!”
The project with Rolf fits perfectly into United Active Living’s view that age is irrelevant when it comes to learning and creativity. United takes the latest research and creates programs that promote the expression of creativity in the residents. The results have brought residents in the communities closer together, and for many, art has opened up a new world.
United partners with a number of arts and cultural organizations in Calgary to connect performers with residents. These partnerships are unique to United and often brings performers into United’s two communities to give residents a more intimate experience.
Residents at United’s Fish Creek community will experience the magic of transforming music into art later this month when Rolf once again performs Pictures at an Exhibition for residents.
Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help!