Patients and staff have called for live music performances at Mater Dei Hospital, leading volunteers who tried out an experiment last year to opt for an encore.

Last year, volunteers from various organisations worked together to carry out a couple of performances at Mater Dei through a pilot project. The initiative was aptly called the Raising Spirits project. It formed part of the European Year of Volunteering, which aimed to promote creative and artistic volunteering within health care.

Lina Borg Vassallo from the Raising Spirits project said today that some 80 per cent of patients and staff interviewed at Mater Dei Hospital had said they would love to have regular performances at the hospital with live music at the top of their list.

Since the original project ends in March, the team is now working on finalising an action plan that would make it sustainable to have regular performances in various hospitals. 

Voices choir conductor Anthony Vella, who is magistrate, spoke about the rewarding experience he shared with patients and staff when his choir performed last December.

“Initially I was hesitant to perform in a hospital.... I was weary of intruding into the private comfort zone of patients... but the immediate feedback was that it was so much worth it... Having brought smiles to the faces of patients and staff... was somewhat of a spiritual experience,” he said.

After the performance a member of the choir received a text message from a patient that read: “You made our day”.

Paul Calleja, a nursing officer within the renal unit, said patients with kidney problems spent four hours on the dialysis machine about three times a week.

This was very monotonous for them but, during the pilot project, the performances made a world of a difference.

“By simply creating some music, the atmosphere changed dramatically to a more serene one,” he said.

Raising Spirits partners include SOS Malta, Mater Dei Hospital, Voices Foundation, Malta Council for Culture and the Arts and the Malta Cancer Foundation.

www.raising-spirits.com