The Pandemic has been especially brutal to residents of extended care, who have endured the loss of fellow residents, fear, depression and extended isolation from family and friends.
Back in November, local musician Rob Peterson began organizing local musicians to reach out to extended care residents with their music, recorded especially for them under the project name Music Joy. Since then, the project blossomed with the participation of five of the Comox Valley’s finest musicians recording live music for 14 extended care facilities including Comox Valley, Campbell River, Powell River, Qualicum, and Parksville.
Interestingly, (according to Anela Kahiamoe) the Hawaiian interpretation to Music Joy is “Kupuna Aloha” and beautifully translated as ‘Love for Elders,” which is precisely what the Music Joy project is about.
In November, Peterson reached out to Liz Friis, director of resident lifestyle & community programs at Glacier View Lodge to propose a video Christmas video concert for Glacier View residents. Liz immediately embraced the concept and reached out to family and friends of residents to send in Christmas greetings and dedications for inclusion in the project. Peterson then reached out to expert videographer Steve Ray and musicians Jenn Forsland and Ralph Barrat to record live music Christmas videos.
“What resulted were fantastic Christmas theme recordings by Jenn and Ralph that included heartfelt video dedications from family and friends,” said Peterson. “The live music and dedications were viewed the week before Christmas and thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated by Glacier View Residents.”
In January, the project expanded to 14 extended care facilities including Powell River, Campbell River, Qualicum, and Parksville. Three additional musicians jumped into the project in January, namely Anela Kahiamoe and the duo of Charlotte & Dave Harvey.
Videographer Steve Ray was key to this project, receiving musicians recordings that were edited, turned into a finished product, and distributed electronically to the 14 extended care units on a weekly basis since January,” said Peterson. “In all, 18 music performances were recorded especially for the residents by Jenn, Ralph, Anela, Dave & Charlotte. In all, a great team effort to bring a little joy of music to the lives of elders in extended care.”
All of the musicians and videographer embraced this project from the start.
“It has been a privilege to be a part of this project,” said Forsland. “Without exception, each time I recorded a concert, I was reminded of time spent with my granny when she lived at Casa Loma. When I would visit her, we would sometimes go to the piano in the common area and I would play requests of hers and the other residents. I have enjoyed similar experiences at Berwick, Abbeyfield House, Stevenson Place, and the Comox Valley Senior’s Village over the last 15 years.”
Forsland said the project doubled as personal therapy for her, considering the restrictions the pandemic has imposed on performing artists.
“I am grateful for the gift of music in my life and know firsthand the loss that I have felt this past year without my musical collaborations,” she said. “Recording these concerts was both a trip down memory lane as well as a cathartic experience during this time when we cannot be together and share music in person. Music heals, uplifts, and connects us in the most human of ways.”
Peterson sincerely thanks Steve Ray, Jenn Forsland, Ralph Barrat, Charlotte & Dave Harvey, and Anela for their high-spirited participation and giving of their talent to bring a little joy to the lives of our elders in extended care.