New VocalEssence Vintage Voices brings the power of singing to seniors

Older adults are pursuing active lives, and VocalEssence is gladly adding to their options with the launch of VocalEssence Vintage Voices—an exciting choral program that integrates the arts into the everyday lives of older adults by fostering the creation of choirs in assisted living facilities and senior centers. With funding from the Minnesota State Arts Board, VocalEssence is partnering with ArtSage and Ecumen to provide Vintage Voices at six sites in 2015.

Photos by Stephen Maturen

Photos by Stephen Maturen

Conductor Rob Graham, VocalEssence education manager and music librarian, and piano accompanist John Jensen will spend 12 weeks this spring developing choirs in Minneapolis at the Sabathani Community Center Senior Center and Open Circle at Heritage Park Senior Services Center, and at Ecumen Seasons at Maplewood. In the fall they will work with groups at the Waters of Edina, Walker Methodist in Minneapolis and Augustana Open Circle of Apple Valley.

The rehearsals will culminate in an on-site concert by the singers for their friends, family and community members. Weekly rehearsals focus on the process of singing together, and incorporate sensory-rich activities, social and reflection time. This interactive, ongoing approach aims to elicit proven health benefits of creative arts, including improved health outcomes, reduced depression, increased engagement and pleasure, and improved self-esteem. Auditions are not necessary, but partner sites need to demonstrate interest and commitment from a group of at least 20 who will consistently attend rehearsals, as well as a VocalEssence concert.

VocalEssence Choral Pathways enriches the appreciation of choral music and the arts for older adults in assisted living homes across the Twin Cities metro area. More than 500 residents and community members have participated since 2012, attending VocalEssence concerts and exploring the legacies of the featured composers and artists. All of these activities are free, and include free ADA-accessible transportation to and from the performance venues.

Choral Pathways Program Participants Since 2012
Ecumen Prairie Lodge of Brooklyn Center
Ecumen Seasons at Apple Valley
Ecumen Seasons at Maplewood
The Manor at Copperfield Hill of Robbinsdale
Lyngblomsten of Saint Paul
Amherst H. Wilder Adult Day Health Program at the Center for Community Aging
Sabathani Community Center Senior Center
Ebenezer Minneapolis Adult Day Program

After the VocalEssence WITNESS: Let Freedom Ring concert in February, Georgia Marinkov-Omorean, program director at the Sabathani Senior Center, shared this about the experience:

“ … Thank you! Thank you! Everything went extremely well. The seats were incredible and the busing was on time! … The concert was ‘off the chain’ as we say at Sabathani. The senior participants were thrilled and again we were all inspired by the message of unity when overcoming adversity. I hope we can carry that theme into 2015. VocalEssence provided a good start. … Thanks again for your loving kindness when working with our seniors. You are fabulous!”

Vintage Voices PhotographyHeritage Park