ONE OF Scotland’s favourite authors is to lead a benefit concert highlighting how music can help people with dementia.

The one-off evening will feature the Really Terrible Orchestra, a world-renowned group of amateur musicians co-founded by Alexander McCall Smith.

The writer will also share his personal music memories in conversation with broadcaster and former Evening Times Scotswoman of the Year Sally Magnusson whose mother Mamie lived with dementia in the last few years of her life.

Sally founded Playlist for Life after her mother’s death in 2012, having discovered how music enables people with dementia to feel more like themselves. The charity aims to ensure that everyone living with the condition has access to a personal playlist of meaningful music.

It provides tools, training and information and has established a rapidly expanding network of Community Help Points to support people in making their playlists.

The concert is backed by the University of Edinburgh’s Prevent Dementia Project, which aims to find ways to detect dementia before symptoms appear in a bid to slow it down or stop it taking hold.

Dementia, which affects memory, thinking skills and the ability to carry out everyday activities, is now the biggest killer in the UK, affecting 90,000 people in Scotland.

Scientists report increasing evidence that music can be a powerful tool to improve wellbeing, protect brain health and unlock memories.

Sally said: “We are so grateful to Alexander McCall Smith and the Really Terrible Orchestra for helping to create what promises to be a fabulous and fun evening of music and memory.

“The concert will celebrate the immense power of music in enabling people with dementia to feel more themselves, and provide a fascinating insight into the meaningful music of one of Scotland’s most-loved literary stars.”

Professor Craig Ritchie, Director of the University of Edinburgh’s Prevent Dementia Programme, 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.

“We are so grateful to the Really Terrible Orchestra for giving us time, effort and enthusiasm to empower people to protect their brain health.”

Ninian Hewitt, Chairman of the Really Terrible Orchestra said: “The magic of music is that it evokes so much memory, emotion and fun in all the stages of life.

“The RTO is happy to be involved in scattering this magic as far and wide as possible and to support this wonderful cause.”

Proceeds from the concert, which is supported by Spiers Gumley, will be split between Playlist for Life and the Prevent Dementia Project.

Musical Memories will be held at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland on June 1. For tickets, visit