Opera Kelowna brings the music to the people

The society is serenading seniors as a way to give back during this difficult time

Opera Kelowna’s artists are using their talents to bring smiles to the city’s seniors in a series of performances titled Sidewalk Serenades.

The chair of the board of directors for Opera Kelowna, Allan Neilson, said they knew there are many residents who don’t do well with being cooped up inside.

“This initiative is really an opportunity for us to find out what we can do for our community during this time because there are a lot of people in the community who don’t do very well in a shutdown situation like this,” he said.

“In particular, one of the groups that are vulnerable to isolation and the mental health issues that come with it are our seniors. So we decided to find a way to bring them some joy.”

Neilson added they know long-term care facilities are hotspots for COVID-19 outbreaks across the country, so they’ve been extra careful with their performances.

Opera Kelowna put on the first performance for Sidewalk Serenades on April 24. They put on a second performance at Glenmore Lodge on April 29. Neilson said the singers each prepare their favourite songs and perform those, instead of having a prescribed setlist. He also said each performance has a different number of singers each time, depending on the songs and the location.

“It’s not great right now, especially in these conditions under which we’re living, but this is something to hopefully help them feel better and brighten their day and let them know that despite all that’s going on right now, there’s still this intrinsically beautiful art-form called opera,” Neilson said.

He added that the Sidewalk Serenades is a great platform for their artists to keep performing.

“As you know, all across the country and various performing arts groups, there’s a lot of anxiety right now on the part of singers and performers who just can’t do what they were born to do, as well as the financial implications of not being able to perform but (Sidewalk Serenades) gives them a way to still do what they do best.”

Neilson said the group’s main priority is to sing to residents at seniors’ care facilities but other residents can also request a serenade in their neighbourhood, provided Opera Kelowna’s singers are available to do it.

He said the pandemic has been devastating not just for Opera Kelowna, but for many other performing arts groups throughout the country.

“We had a very exciting 2020 season that was supposed to kick off in May and go through the summer, but we’ve had to postpone it for the next season. We’ve also had to put on hold our training program for emerging artists,” Neilson said.

“It’s been difficult… besides having to cancel the bulk of our season, our sponsorships and grants have also dried up. Everybody is going through a downturn in terms of what they can support these days. These are difficult times and we need the community now more than ever, but in the meantime, we really wanted to make the best out of the situation and give back to the community.”

For more information on Sidewalk Serenades and to suggest a residence for a serenade, visit Opera Kelowna’s website.

READ: RDCO hosts Okanagan Shines Spring Poetry Contest

READ: Ballet Kelowna feeling the impact of COVID-19 shutdowns


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
Follow me on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Public asked to leave Coldstream bear and cubs alone

Sow and babes spent the day up a tree Saturday in a busy area

COVID-19 closes Okanagan College summer camps

Popular Camp OC put on shelf from Salmon Arm to Penticton, and Revelstoke, until 2021

Lake Country caregivers to receive support, counselling through pilot program

Access to the program can be found at the Lake Country Health Planning Society

Almost half of shops in Vernon mall reopened

Reduced food court capacity, curb-side pickup program en route

Business bustling as Vernon eateries begin to reopen

Browns Socialhouse, The Kal reporting full and respectful crowds at establishments

Okanagan man rides the rail trail in support of Alzheimer’s

Kelowna to Vernon and back as part of the online Walk for Alzheimer’s May 31

B.C. man with Alberta plates gets car keyed and aggressive note

Some out-of-province people are finding hostile reception due to COVID-19 worries

B.C. drive-in theatre appeals COVID-19 concession rules, 50-car limit

With 50 cars and the removal of concession sales, drive-in owner says theatre might have to close

COVID-19: B.C. grants aim to stabilize sexual assault recovery programs

$10 million fund not yet ready to take applications

B.C. mom’s drug-pricing petition on behalf of son garners thousands of signatures

Petition geared to gaining access to new medicines drew support of Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl

Body of missing woman found in Kelowna

Kelly Joy Zuchotzki was last seen on May 24

‘Paralyzed by fear’: B.C. woman details anxiety, grief at Italian relief hospital

Sheila Vicic spent two months in Italy as the country grappled with COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry given new name in B.C. First Nation ceremony: ‘one who is calm among us’

The provincial health officer was honoured in a May 22 ceremony at elementary school in Hazelton

CAMH survey looks at binge-drinking, financial anxiety during COVID

Alcohol may be used as a coping mechanism for those whose careers may have been sidelined due to the pandemic

Most Read