Sam Smith discovers an innovative project that helps our most vulnerable during the pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic has presented social and financial challenges for many, and required everyone to do what they have always done in different ways. Few people, however, have been more affected than care home residents. With a quarter of all associated deaths sadly thought to have occurred in care homes, residents have been forced to isolate from each other as well as the outside world.
The loneliness faced by the elderly is an urgent problem, and one of which Constella OperaBallet founder, Leo Geyer, became acutely aware when he supported his grandmother in her care home. After performing for her over Zoom, the award-winning composer was inspired to create Connecting Stars and, following her recent death, has dedicated the project to her memory.
Connecting Stars is seeing many of the most vulnerable people in society being given access to free virtual concerts from some of the UK’s most exciting creatives. Because all concerts are one-to-one, they will allow for both a personalised and interactive experience. The performers will be paid for their work, so the initiative will not only help loneliness among care home residents isolated from their support network, but also alleviate the immense financial difficulties faced by artists whose industry has come to a standstill.
“The loneliness faced by the elderly is an urgent problem, and one of which… Leo Geyer became acutely aware when he supported his grandmother in her care home”
Constella will connect artists who have worked with industry leaders, such as the Royal Opera House, the National Theatre and Glyndebourne Festival Opera, with care homes from Penzance to Inverness. The list of musicians, dancers and actors is continually growing but includes acclaimed violinist Philippa Mo, and award-winning soprano Claire Wild. Conductor and composer William Cole, whose upcoming engagements include performances with the Opéra national du Rhin and English National Opera, is also on board, as is harpist Olivia Jageurs, an alumnus of the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s Foyle Future Firsts scheme.
Bass-baritone Sir Willard White is an enthusiastic patron of the scheme, saying “I’m excited to be part of Constella’s commendable work taking world class music to people who are usually unable to access it and hope that everyone will join me in pledging their support”. The final word, however, goes to Geyer himself who says “Our ambition is to support as many artists as possible and to channel their talent by giving heart-warming performances to the most vulnerable people in society. We hope that by connecting with one another we will become a beacon of positivity, happiness and unity”.
Further details about the Connecting Stars initiative, including how to book a performance, become a star artist or donate to the project, can be found on the Constella OperaBallet website.