Edinburgh University teams up with charity for dementia concert

Ricky Ross from Deacon Blue on the stage.
Ricky Ross from Deacon Blue on the stage.
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Broadcaster Sally Magnusson is joining three of the nation’s leading singer-songwriters to stage a benefit gig to help fund research into dementia after she created a charity to show how music can help people cope with the disease.

Deacon Blue’s Ricky Ross, Del Amitri frontman Justin Currie and Gary Clark, the award-winner founder of Danny Wilson, have agreed to perform at an intimate concert the BBC Scotland presenter will host next year.

Justin Currie

Justin Currie

Magnusson’s charity Playlist for Life, which she founded after her mother Mamie’s death in 2012, is joining forces with the University of Edinburgh to stage the show at Scotland’s oldest purpose-built concert hall.

The charity, which is aimed at ensuring everyone living with dementia is able to access a personal playlist of “meaningful music,” is working with the university to explore how it influences the brain and help explain why it may improve life for people living with the disease.

Only around 200 tickets will be available for the concert, Songs in the Round.

And there is sure to be big demand to see some of the nations’ best loved performers in such close quarters.

The springtime gig will be held at the historic St Cecilia’s Hall, which dates back to 1763 and reopened last year after a £6.5 million makeover.

It is home to one of the world’s most important collections of musical instruments spanning more than four centuries.

Magnusson said: “The concert will celebrate the immense power of music in enabling people with dementia to feel more themselves.

“We are so grateful to the musicians and our partners at the university’s Centre for Dementia Prevention for helping to create what promises to be a unique evening of song and memory.”

Ricky Ross, who will also be headlining the Hebridean Celtic Festival with Deacon Blue later in the same year, said he was delighted to take part for both the creative energy and the chance to get so close to the audience.

He said: “This will be a chance to hear three singer songwriters perform songs they’ve written, exploring the theme of memory.

“Performing in the round – in the style of the Nashville Bluebird Café – gives the singers time to tell stories and swap ideas around. It also gives the audience a chance to experience, close up, the intimacy of the singer and the song.

“I’m delighted to be performing with great fellow Scottish singer-songwriters who have massive back-catalogues of songs to choose from.”

Professor Craig Ritchie, director of the Centre for Dementia Prevention, said the backing of such musical legends was an endorsement of their efforts around dementia.

He said: “We have been working closely with Playlist for Life to understand how music can help people living with dementia as well as even prevent its onset.

“This concert is not only a reflection of our collaboration but to have Ricky Ross and friends commit their time, effort and enthusiasm to this cause is a massive endorsement of how the public share our vision.”

Tickets go on sale tomorrow at 10am.