There’s a side of my career that doesn’t often get a lot of attention, even though it has been responsible for some of my most cherished performances, and continues to provide a humbling reminder of music’s power to move a listener when other methods fail. For the past several years I’ve performed concerts for the Health Arts Society, a non-profit society that brings live music to elders in care facilities throughout Canada. Many of these men and women are no longer able to attend cultural events in their communities due to poor health or mobility — so Health Arts brings professional-level music and theatre events directly to their residence. I’m so proud to say that, to date, I’ve performed 130 concerts for this incredible organization.
I’ve given concerts throughout BC under the Health Arts banner, but this past week presented a wonderful opportunity to perform in and around Toronto, thanks to the recently initiated Heath Arts Society of Ontario. HASO’s general manager, Raymond Aucoin, paired me with the fabulous Toronto-based pianist, Younggun Kim, and together we gave a week of concerts that included works by Schubert, Chaminade, Bizet/Borne, Chopin, and Poulenc.
These concerts reaffirm the worth of what I do. There is always someone who is touched in a way that I’d never expect: once, after a bedridden woman shouted “bravo” at the end of a performance, one of the staff informed me that it was the first thing she had spoken in months. There have also been a number of occasions when I’ve been approached by individuals who were professional musicians themselves, and am regaled with tales and anecdotes. And I challenge anyone to keep it together when you’re playing Ave Maria and the whole room hums along with you — years later, it never fails to make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I feel so lucky to have this opportunity to bring music to where it is needed most, and the reminder of how intensely vital the arts are in every stage of our lives.