“Mental health problems are more common among performers than the general population. Every year one in three of us will experience mental health problems.” (Time4Change Mental Health Charter)
The Henry Desmond Orchestra is a newly formed group conceived upon two core objectives; to perform the music of film, tv and theatre for an ever-widening audience and to champion the plight of tackling mental health within the performing arts, raising awareness for this pervasive issue.
I am Henry Desmond, a West End Theatre Technician with a background in music. I have had a passion for music for as long as I can remember, however my own anxieties interrupted and interfered with this desire to engage directly with music and moved me more towards technical theatre as a professional pursuit. After four years working in the industry, I am bringing music back into my life in a big way!
I have conducted and performed in many smaller ensembles and musical theatre productions but have always hoped to produce my own. Now at the age of twenty-two I am ready and inspired to launch this musical venture with a keen eye on bringing mental health problems in the arts to the forefront of what we do.
In March I was very fortunate to see the production of Pippin at the Southwark Playhouse. During this production, the company paid tribute to a member of their original Hope Mill Theatre production who had tragically taken their own life between the Manchester run and the transfer to London. Along with my own experiences, seeing this production and the power of their moving tribute helped me to realise the extent to which mental health problems affect the theatre industry and the arts industry as a whole, and the ever-increasing need to shine a light upon and support this cause. In addition to myself, I have worked with many friends and colleagues who have experienced mental health challenges ranging from minor anxieties to more serious symptoms, and I feel more driven than ever to use the power of live music to make an impact in promoting mental health within the industry and helping those who do such life-changing work in the field.
I am hoping that the orchestra will not only be able to help raise funds for charities such as Mind and The Olivia Faulkner Foundation, but to help make more people aware of mental health issues and what people may be hiding behind that everyday smile. Creativity is a crucial outlet for those who may struggle to express themselves freely in other situations, promoting connectivity, elevated expression, focus, escapism and the safety of a family environment.
The Orchestra has recently been lucky enough to be in contact with Oliver Boito, a new up and coming composer who has released the album Notes Of Love, featuring some of the West End’s leading performers. Notes Of Love is an exploration into the power of song to express the inexpressible, and touch on the emotive forces and impact of love in its many guises. The songs range from epic and timeless orchestral arrangements to the more contemporary purity of piano and solo string, each composed to deliver evocative stories, melodies and emotions that stir imagination and grab the heart. We are delighted that Oliver has agreed for the Orchestra to perform some of these new songs in our Launch concert in April 2019.
Between now and April 2019 my aim is to build the following of the orchestra, enabling a successful public launch to let as many people as possible know about the work we are hoping to do with our productions, and our passionate support of mental well-being.
“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything” - Plato