“Their voice doesn’t stop being beautiful just because they’re in a wheelchair,” said Jaette Carpenter, teacher at Hopewell Music Cooperative North. Carpenter is speaking of the residents of Camden Care Center, with whom she has become close.
Carpenter connected with the residents of the care center when she was directing a choir there. “I always thought the [residents] were just as good at singing as the people in our choir,” she recounts. However, the ability of the residents to perform at different venues was restricted, due to the scarce quantity of buildings with accessible entrances.
Carpenter decided to bridge the gap between these residents and their surrounding community by holding rehearsals for the Hopewell Community Choir at the care center, so that the residents could freely participate without difficulties in transportation.
The kinship that results from the intergenerational creation of music has had a powerful impact on both the singers and the audience. “It’s a really neat experience,” said Carpenter. “People have been in tears. It’s so hard to even express what it does for the young kids, for the families that come in and help sing, for the seniors themselves. It’s just really been a boost to them. They look forward to it every Monday night.”
In the spirit of multigenerational connection, Carpenter created Holiday Tea, an event that joins Hopewell Music members and care center members with the community around them in celebration of the holiday season.
Holiday is in the air, from the cookies and brownies from the bake sale that fill the room with their warm sweet scent to the glistening tinsel trees crafted by the seniors, who also spent hours creating tiny candy-cane tables adorned by a chocolate cupcake. As the choir sings Christmas carols, the blankets, scarves, and ornaments for sale catch audience’s eyes. For a moment, this warm celebration keeps out the cold, Minnesotan air.
The Hopewell Community Choir, familiar with traditional Christmas carols, never ceases to perform a colorful selection of songs, such as Feliz Navidad and Mele Kalikimaka. The choir has even performed songs while translating in sign language. “There will be a performance,” says Carpenter, “but it will be laced with sing-alongs. It’s very fun.”
The fifth annual Holiday Tea takes place on Saturday, December 3 at 2 p.m. at Hopewell Music, 4350 Fremont. This event features the Hopewell Community Choir and is backed by the Holiday Tea orchestra. Admission is free and all are welcome.