B.C. opera singer serenades isolated seniors from retirement home parking lots

Opera singer Jay LaFlamme is becoming a big hit on the retirement home parking lot circuit.

The Armstrong, B.C., resident and soprano member of the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra and Opera Kelowna has been surprising seniors in the province’s Interior by serenading them outside the complexes where they are cooped up during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was very nerve wracking to do it by myself,” said LaFlamme in an interview on CBC’s Daybreak South Tuesday after performing for balcony audiences at facilities in Armstrong and Vernon over the weekend.

LaFlamme said initially the Okanagan Symphony was going to perform together at retirement homes in Kelowna but that plan fell through.

LaFlamme had been mentally preparing for those performances because she said singing in public makes her very nervous. When she found out the group performances were cancelled, she decided not to let her preparation go to waste.

So she took her dog for moral support and set out to spark joy.

Watch | Jay LaFlamme sings Ave Maria outside a Vernon retirement home in this video filmed by an onlooker

Her first stop was at Heaton Place in Armstrong, B.C., where she said she made sure to sing to both sides of the building so no one was left out.

“It was so incredibly … wow,” said LaFlamme, at a bit of a loss for words but with her voice filled with emotion.

She said, as she sang, more and more people came to their balconies and the experience was incredibly moving.

Buoyed by the beauty of the first stop, LaFlamme headed to centre stage, a.k.a the parking lot, at Canterbury Court in Vernon.

There, she performed several songs, including a request for Ave Maria from an enthusiastic audience member in the balcony seats.

“It was just a super feel-good experience,” said LaFlamme.

So good, in fact, her one weekend tour has been extended and a few other singers are planning to join the show, possibly coming soon to a parking lot near you.

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