Ottawa Chamberfest Adapted Concert, in collaboration with Lotus Centre for Special Music Education
Last month, I had the opportunity to attend an adapted concert as part of the Ottawa Chamberfest concert series. I hadn’t ever been to an adapted concert before, so I really had no idea what to expect. All that I knew beforehand was that adapted concerts are designed to allow for individuals who might otherwise be unable to attend to do so, in a manner that is comfortable for them.
This concert took place at the Sacred Space at Beechwood Cemetery. This large space provided the perfect venue for this event. The room itself is a large circle, with large windows allowing for natural light to fill the room from all directions.
When I arrived, I was greeted immediately, given a program, and offered headphones to use in case the music or the noise from others was too much. I was also advised that guests were free to roam the room as they pleased throughout the concert, and were encouraged to sing along, to clap along, or to dance it they would like to; in general, I was advised that this was a safe space where people of all ages, abilities, and neuro-profiles were welcome to be themselves and enjoy some amazing music! It was such a warm, inviting environment.
This concert featured the incredible talents of Emili Losier, Soprano, Phillip Klaassen, Tenor, and Jenna Richards, Piano. I had the pleasure of seeing Losier and Klaassen recently when they sang with the Ottawa Pops Orchestra, so I was familiar with them, but this was my first time seeing Richards play, and she was phenomenal! These three are a powerhouse trio. Losier brings a lifetime of experience to her performances; her ease and calm alludes to years perfecting her craft. The stage becomes her home, the audience her welcome guest. She and Klaassen’s voices blend beautifully together, each note perfect. Klaassen is equally gifted, his voice and his energy filling the large space, enveloping the audience. Richard’s accompaniment was flawless.
They performed a varied selection of songs, both opera and musical theatre, that would appeal to any audience, young or old, which was great, as there were a lot of children present! The songs that they selected were upbeat, fun, and mostly familiar to the audience. A number of children even got up to walk around, to dance, or simply to move!
Each of these musicians is very gifted in their craft, but what I found to be absolutely enthralling was their interaction with the audience. For me personally, musicians of this calibre can be quite daunting; however, these three were approachable, kind, encouraging, and funny. They interacted with individual guests when appropriate, encouraged participation, and even offered the opportunity to ask them questions. They captured the attention of all of the children present, which isn’t an easy task! Their interactions were so genuine, it was really beautiful to see!
Having been to hundreds of events in the Ottawa area, it is not often that I am blown away by them anymore. However, this concert blew me away. The welcoming environment, the amazing talents of the musicians, the overall ambience, and the genuine openness to guests being themselves and making themselves as comfortable as possible was truly remarkable. I really hope to see more of these three in the future. And, as an aside, I hope to see more events in Ottawa that cater to different abilities, sensory profiles, and divergencies. This type of inclusion is exactly what our city needs!
The photos included in this post are the work of the exceptionally talented Curtis Perry, who graciously allowed me to share them with you. Thank you, Curtis, for allowing me to share these beautiful moments that you captured!