Oct 26, 2021

“Anything is possible”: 81-year-old living with dementia performs with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra

Paul Harvey A (1)

Paul, who is 81, made headlines last year with a piano composition he wrote from just four notes given to him by his son, and a video of the performance went viral.

“Dad’s ability to improvise and compose beautiful melodies on the fly has always amazed me,” Paul’s son, Nick, wrote at the time.

“Tonight, I gave him four random notes as a starting point.

“Although his dementia is getting worse, moments like this bring him back to me,” said Nick.

The tune received nearly 70,000 likes and has been shared more than 10,000 times and reported on all over the world.

The BBC picked up the story, and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra performed the piece. 

Paul has now performed the piece with the BBC Philharmonic, both playing piano and conducting.

“What a joy,” he said following the performance.

“It was wonderful, an experience I loved.”

Organised by Music for Dementia, money raised will be used to fund therapy sessions for people living with dementia all over the UK.

“Seeing all this amazing work across the UK because of Four Notes is just amazing,” she said.

At the end of the special day recording, Nick played piano and Paul conducted the orchestra.

“I never ever thought I’d conduct one of the BBC orchestras, one of the great orchestras,” said Paul.

“What lovely people they are. They’re so nice.

“Music’s a wonderful thing. It brings memories alive.

“I’d say anything is possible, even if you have dementia.”

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