Available online from Tuesday 8th December 2020
See end of this article for the performing artists and how to buy tickets
Loneliness among the elderly is a crisis that is only becoming more urgent as Christmas approaches. Earlier this year, the world’s only dedicated opera-ballet company, Constella, launched Connecting Stars to provide free one-to-one virtual performances to isolated care home residents; their upcoming Christmas Gala hopes to raise money to continue their series and meet growing demand.
Their Christmas Gala, filmed in Studio Wayne McGregor, will be presented in two acts with instrumentalists in full costume to propel the gala to new theatrical heights. Act 1 will be framed within the context of Constella’s award-winning and critically acclaimed Sideshows. With introductions from The Ringmaster, their diverse repertoire will include an opera-ballet performance of The Bearded Lady from Sideshows, a highly virtuosic solo accordian performance of Piazzola’s Adios Nonino, music from West Side Story and Habanera from Carmen. Harp and violin duet Olivia Jageurs and Phillipa Mo will perform Heifetz’ Deep River and a beautiful Handel sonata.
Act 2 will see the musicians enter a Christmassy wonderland. A much-loved classic will have enriched meaning in the world premiere of He shall feed His flock like a shepherd from Handel’s Messiah, now choreographed by Jaered Glavin in true opera-ballet style. This will be followed by three excerpts from Nutcracker, finishing with the original treble chorus from Waltz of the Snowflakes. 2
Since the launch of Connecting Stars, over 50 care homes have taken part with nearly 150 performances reaching over 2,000 residents. Loneliness amongst the elderly has long been a shocking crisis in the UK and it’s only exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic this year. By fundraising through this beautiful gala, Constella hope to be able to reach more care homes in future months, as well as provide care homes with this digital gala free of charge for their residents to enjoy this Christmas.
Constella founder, Leo Geyer says, We are proud to have redirected our energies to play our part in the battle against the pandemic. It has been our honour to bring joy and happiness to the elderly combating the pressing issues of loneliness and isolation in care homes. Our virtual performances have become an essential and permanent fixture for many care home residents across the country. We hope that you will enjoy our virtual gala and help us to continue Connecting Stars.
Burwood Nursing Home comments, Our residents really appreciated the audience participation, the great variety of songs, and the fabulous sense of fun. One resident described your singing as “a burst of sunshine”. After the call we had a great discussion about the songs and the amazing expressions and emotions you had.
Constella’s virtual performances have already raised thousands for struggling artists this year
“Since the 25th of June, we have had a roster of 10 artists, 25 participating care homes from Penzance to Inverness, and have raised £4,800 from the public to deliver the programme. I’m really pleased to say that since then, all of those figures have increased! We are very pleased that the programme is expanding so rapidly. Having begun only a few weeks ago, we have the aspiration to continue this programme indefinitely, particularly as the public are continuing to give.
Loneliness amongst the elderly has long been an urgent and shocking crisis in the UK. However, as the virus sweeps the nation, with a quarter of all associated deaths thought to have occurred in care homes, the problem has been exacerbated as residents have been forced to isolate from each other as well as the outside world. This is a challenge that Constella founder, Leo Geyer has faced first-hand while supporting his grandmother in her care home. After performing for her over Zoom, the award-winning composer was inspired to create Connecting Stars. Following her recent death, Geyer has dedicated this project to her memory.
Connecting Stars also aim to support freelance artists currently struggling due to the pandemic’s devastating effect on the global arts scene. Constella will connect artists who have worked with industry leaders such as The Royal Opera House, The National Theatre and Glyndebourne with care homes from Penzance to Inverness. The growing list of musicians, dancers and actors involved includes Ilona Suomalainen, Henry Rankin, Antanas Makštutis and Rachel Maby. Also performing are acclaimed violinist Philippa Mo, award winning soprano Claire Wild, conductor and composer William Cole, whose upcoming engagements include performances with Opéra National du Rhin and English National Opera as well as harpist Olivia Jageurs, an alum of London Philharmonic Orchestra’s Foyle Future Firsts scheme.
Patron and world-famous bass baritone Sir Willard White CBE comments, “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.“
Constella founder, Leo Geyer adds: “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.“
Christmas Gala tickets and artists
Tickets £7, or £12 with a £5 donation to Connecting Stars. Tickets can be purchased at https://www.constella.org.uk/ and the production can be viewed on the website https://www.constella.org.uk/virtualtheatre
Artists: Leo Geyer, Rachel Maby, Jaered Glavin Henry Rankin, Michael Newman, Alice Oakley-Jones, Matt Petty, Felicity Buckland, Robin Bailey, Jenny Begley, Ilona Suomalainen, Anthony Friend, Olivia Jageurs and Philippa Mo.
Follow Constella at:
Twitter @ConstellaOpBal #ConnectingStars
Constella are the world’s only company dedicated to opera-ballet and create cutting-edge, interdisciplinary performances for today’s audience. Founded by the award-winning composer and conductor Leo Geyer, Constella brings together pioneering musicians, dancers, visual artists, historians, garden designers, architects, poets, and costume-makers.
Constella was founded in 2011 and they now perform in theatres, at site-specific locations and virtually, broadcasting to the world. Described by The Times as ‘imaginative and beautifully shaped’, Constella’s work has been seen across the UK and has been featured at the Royal Chelsea Flower Show and broadcast on BBC Radio 3. By delivering meaningful participation programmes alongside professional productions, they have supported over 500 children and young artists in arts education and professional development, resulting in an award for social enterprise from UnLtd.
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