Voix du Coeur is bringing music to seniors in retirement homes as restrictions slowly start to ease. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)

Trio sings opera to Okanagan seniors as pandemic restrictions ease

Voix du Coeur travel around the Okanagan to bring the joy of music to seniors for free

A trio of singers hopes to lighten hearts and bring smiles to faces as many continue to stay indoors as the pandemic continues this summer.

Voix du Coeur — Voices of the Heart — came about after two Opera Kelowna singers wanted to keep singing and bring joy to seniors who were stuck in retirement facilities at the height of the pandemic.

Jay Laflamme participated in Opera Kelowna’s Sidewalk Serenades. After the program ended in the fall, Laflamme said she kept getting requests for her to come and sing to the residents from outside.

So, she decided to continue.

At first, she was singing with fellow Opera Kelowna singer Peter Johner. Soon after that, former Okanagan Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Denis Letourneau reached out to her and asked if he can join them with his violin.

Since then, the three of them have been travelling from one retirement community to another in Armstrong, Vernon, and Kelowna, performing solos, duets, as well as trios.

“It’s a beautiful service to the community and retirement homes, to have someone come and give them a little bit of entertainment,” Johner said.

“It makes their day and we enjoy that too.”

Letourneau said the pandemic has been difficult not only on retirement home residents but also on performers like them at Voix du Coeur, so being able to offer music the way they do is a win-win.

“I was just missing playing so much… so I phoned Jay and said ‘is this possible?’,” he said. Laflamme said she was so excited to expand the little musical group, especially as Letourneau can accompany them while they sing operatic pieces.

Of course, they started out singing on the sidewalk not able to see their audience, but as restrictions start to ease in B.C., their outdoor concerts are finally starting to feel like actual concerts.

The trio sang and played at Missionwood to an audience of about 50 people on July 18. Some of them stayed put on their balconies, while others were able to sit out on the lawn and even interact with the singers from a distance.

There were plenty of smiles on that afternoon as residents finally experienced an afternoon out for the first time in over a year.

The trio said that overall, the feedback has been amazing to the point that they’re already booked to sing at different facilities until summer’s end.

They said they are overjoyed at being able to bring music to people in any way they can and are hopeful they will be able to do it for more people soon enough.

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@twilamam
twila.amato@blackpress.ca

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