Shaker High senior recording performances for local assisted living communities – Spotlight News | #seniorliving | #elderly | #seniors
LATHAM — A Shaker High School senior is spreading some high-pitched joy with her virtual musical theatre performances in local assisted living communities.
Sophie Dvorak has had a love for singing as long as she can remember. Her voice, a clear soprano, seamlessly glides over the highest of notes, a dance of rhythms escaping her lips as quick as they approach.
Dvorak’s videos, which feature musical theatre classics including “My White Knight,” “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” and “Over the Rainbow,” are simple. She’s accompanied by her brother, Sam Dvorak, off-camera and she will use outfits and green screens to tell the story. The effects are secondary to the grappling nature of Dvorak’s voice; once she sings, it’s hard to watch anything but her. Each video begins with a personalized greeting for her audience and a gentle summary of what’s to come. Without bravado, she begins to sing as quickly as she stops speaking.
The young musician, who trains under Karen Amedio, said her idea for her performances came from a volunteer experience she had when she was younger.
“When I was in Girl Scouts, our troop visited a community and we sang Halloween carols, which were really zany Halloween lyrics to the rhythm of Christmas songs,” Dvorak said. “The residents absolutely loved the performance and it made me realize how music can really bridge a gap between generations.”
Now that COVID-19 has all but battered nursing homes and assisted living facilities, residents have been quarantined from their loved ones for over a year. Even with restrictions slowly loosening and vaccines becoming plentiful, Dvorak understands the importance of spreading joy in these communities, especially since the residents are often limited to where they can go due to transportation issues or, in the case as of late, the virus itself. Her videos have made it to the hands of several communities, including Atria Shaker, Evergreen Commons, King Thiel Senior Community and The Wesley Community.
Dvorak sent her first video in last April, when the pandemic first started. She said she wasn’t too concerned about receiving a response; for her, the joy of singing far satisfies her need for external gratification. However, she heard back quickly and has found the response to be overwhelmingly positive. She’s also received requests from excited listeners, a task she’s happy to take on.
“The thing I love about musical theatre is how united you are during the performance,” Dvorak said. “There’s something incredibly motivating about having a group of people who are telling the same story and each bringing a piece of it to life. Musical theatre is one of the purest definitions of joy and it’s such a different experience than being in a choir or other ensemble.”
Dvorak’s videos have garnered attention across her district, with the administration praising the senior for her charitable pastime.
“By sharing her talent and hard work with others, Sophie has found a way for people to relive special memories around music, even in the midst of a pandemic,” North Colonie deputy superintendent Kathleen Skeals said.
“There is a beauty in sharing music with others and I hope to spread some of that to those who need it,” Dvorak concluded. “If others can experience the story of these incredible productions, it’s an honor I can bring that forward.”