Press Release

Senior Citizens Benefit from the Power of Song

Jennifer Weismann

Participants in VocalEssence Vintage Voices program will perform May 5 and 12

MINNEAPOLIS — March 1, 2016 — Leading arts organization VocalEssence announces the second season of Vintage Voices—a community engagement program integrating arts into the everyday lives of older adults by fostering the creation of choirs in assisted living facilities and senior centers.

The season, funded by the Minnesota State Arts Board, will culminate in two public concerts by its singing seniors. Participants from Sabathani Senior Center take the stage on May 5; and the choir at Ebenezer Park Apartments will perform on May 12.

Vintage Voices conductor Rob Graham and piano accompanist John Jensen visit each location weekly for 12 weeks to put together the program.  Rehearsals bring seniors together, to socialize and connect with a purpose—making beautiful music. But the experience goes even deeper: the sensory-rich activities offered by Vintage Voices are designed to reduce depression, as well as increase engagement, joy, and self-esteem.

“Singing taps into so much of what makes us individuals—it’s emotionally expressive, cathartic, and when you sing with others, you’re also staying engaged and purposeful,” said Rob Graham, Vintage Voices conductor, VocalEssence. “Seniors in our programs love the challenge of learning new skills like vocal technique, and they get a real boost of energy from coming together to rehearse every week as a choir. Last year’s program was a huge success, and it looks like we’ll have as much fun at this year’s pair of spring concerts.”

“It’s been so rewarding to see the response to the Vintage Voices program from VocalEssence,” said Georgia Marinkov-Omorean, senior center manager at Sabathani. “Studies have shown that singing improves mood, memory, and cognitive function, but the real proof is in the excitement we see in our clients as they come to the rehearsals every week. The program brings an infusion of youthful energy and enthusiasm that is truly priceless. We see a real change in our seniors that continues on after the singing is through.”

“I sing in my church choir.  Now, in addition, I look forward to the Vintage Voices rehearsals every week,” said Gwen Fraction, a choir member of the Sabathani Community Center Senior Center. “You don’t often get an opportunity to be a part of something like this. As we get older, we can still learn and improve at anything if we work at it. We have so much fun singing together, and—I have to say—I think we sound great.”

The choir at Sabathani Senior Center takes the stage on Thursday, May 5 at 6:00 pm; participants at Ebenezer Park Apartments will perform at 3:00 pm on Thursday, May 12; receptions will follow after both concerts, which are free and open to the public. For more information about this concert and Vintage Voices, please call 612-547-1456 or visit The program will also be held in the fall of 2016 at additional senior centers.

VocalEssence, called “one of the irreplaceable music ensembles of our time” by Dana Gioia, past chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts—and the choral ensemble that Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones says “sings magnificently”—is a leading arts organization that impacts thousands of students, singers, and composers each year through its initiative programs, contests, and support for innovative art. Regularly featured on “A Prairie Home Companion,” VocalEssence is in demand whenever choral music is required—performing with everyone from the Rolling Stones and Rufus Wainwright to James Earl Jones and the Fisk Jubilee Singers. Founded in 1969, VocalEssence has debuted more than 250 commissions and world premieres. For more information, visit