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Residents at United’s Fish Creek community played host this week to performers from Calgary Opera’s Emerging Artists program.  Residents from United’s Garrison Green visited the Fish Creek theatre to take in the performance. Four performers – Daevyd Pepper, Jillian Bonner, Geoffrey Schellenberg and Morgan Traynor –  accompanied on the piano by their director Mel Kirby, thrilled the more than 50 residents with popular numbers, and songs from the upcoming Calgary Opera performance of Eugene Onegin.

Emerging artist Daevyd Pepper, a tenor, says he loves performing for an older audience. “Older adults have usually heard some of the songs before or are planning to attend an upcoming performance,” he said. “Older listeners are also quite interactive. They like to see the performers up close and often engage in conversation with us afterwards. That adds a lot of meaning to me to know that I’m reaching my listeners.”

Here is a portion of Daevyd’s performance for residents.

Calgary Opera is one of several arts, culture and higher learning organizations that United Active Living is partnering with. Each partnership provides opportunities for residents to experience small, intimate concerts within their communities, and to attend outside performances.

Jillian Bonner, a mezzo-soprano said it’s important to give concerts within the community. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to step away from our regular schedule and sing for the community. Being here allows us to perform in a more intimate setting.”

“Having a group like Calgary Opera come into one of our communities provides a unique opportunity for residents to hear the music they love, particularly if they aren’t able to get out as often as they would like,” said United’s music director Jill LaForty. “You can feel the power in their voices that you may not experience fully in a theatre setting. It’s really a special experience.”

Both Daevyd and Jillian agreed that performing in the community is a great way to bring opera to the residents.

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

Contact us here!


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An intriguing series of performances that combined music and art concluded at United’s Garrison Green community featuring Rolf Bertsch, piano professor at the Mount Royal University Conservatory and artistic director and conductor of Calgary Civic Symphony, and the residents of Garrison Green.

“The concept was to use music to inspire the creation of art, “explained Rolf. “We titled the project ‘What do you see when you hear music?’ We all have a deep emotional connection to music. Music can also evoke images, which can then be the basis for creating a variety of art.”

The program, which is part of Mount Royal University’s Arts and Culture program, is a favourite at United. It was introduced to residents last year when Rolf performed Pictures at an Exhibition by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky, which produced a range of paintings, drawings, fibre art and poetry that represented what residents heard.

For this winter’s program, Rolf chose to focus on nature with three themes: snow, moonlight and water.

“For the snow segment, I included two very different works by Claude Debussy. The first was ‘The Snow is Dancing’ with its perpetual and generally gentle, even playful, snowflakes. The second, ‘Des pas sur la neige’ (footprints in the snow), is an eerily still winter scene of very little movement.

“The moonlight segment combined two very obvious choices, Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata and Debussy’s Clair de lune with two others – a Johannes Brahms Intermezzo that the composer had originally called “Nocturne” and Robert Schumann’s famous Träumerei (Dreaming).

“For the water segment I included three works describing different realizations of one of Nature’s most powerful forces. The first was Chopin’s so-called “Raindrop”
Prelude; the second was the Etude-tableau in A minor, Op. 39, No. 2, by
Rachmaninoff – the association with water came through a Respighi orchestration of
this work which the Italian composer called “The Sea and the Seagulls”.

While it almost certainly was not Rachmaninoff’s intention to have this association with the ocean, one can certainly see and hear why Respighi interpreted it this way. Finally,
there was a piece by the little known Portuguese composer, Luis Costa, entitled
“Water on the Mountains” which ended the program with a brilliant cascade of
mountainous water!”

For an encore, Rolf gave a nod to George Shearing with the classic “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.

To introduce each piece, Rolf explained what both he and the composer were thinking, but was careful not to affect the residents’ interpretation of what they heard. “When I make music, I don’t usually think in terms of images. For me it’s more about the colour and character. Therefore, when I introduced each piece, I didn’t want to influence the residents with my own interpretation. As a result, residents produced a wide range of artwork around the general themes.”

“The result was astonishing,” Rolf said. “Creating art from music is an interesting way to spark the creative juices. It’s not about sitting back and passively enjoying the music, but actively engaging in an emotional response to the music. As I mentioned earlier, Rachmaninoff likely wasn’t thinking about the sea and seagulls when he composed his Etude-tableau in A minor, Op. 39, but it evoked those images in Respighi.”

Resident Alexis Beddoe was attracted to the program because she  likes to try new things. “I found the whole exercise very freeing. I’m not an artist but I felt free to make the effort and not worry about whether I was doing a good job. What mattered to me was the process. I really discovered something new about myself!”

“And that’s really what the arts is all about,” said Rolf. “Taking an emotional response to music or a nature scene and creating something new that is highly meaningful to the artist and to the viewer or listener. I’m really looking forward to working with the residents on our next program!”

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

Contact us here!


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Pre-eminent Calgary theatre director, actor and writer, Joyce Doolittle, has been awarded the Order of Canada for “contributing to the advancement of theatre in Calgary through her pioneering efforts as a performer, teacher and leader.”

Joyce, who turns 90 this spring, came to Calgary with her husband Quenten in the 1960s. “At the time, there were amateur theatre groups but no professional theatre companies,” said Joyce. “So instead of working in theatre, I went to work at the University of Calgary teaching drama while Quenten worked there in the music department.”

Joyce Doolittle displays a photo of her performing in Death of a Salesman

Joyce Doolittle displays a photo of her performing in Death of a Salesman

Joyce was never content to produce or direct plays that had been done so often before. Rather, she looked for plays that were new, but that would attract an audience. “I always found Western Canada to be open to new ideas, so creating plays that showcased the talent of young actors yet also proved to be popular with audiences was my criteria when it came to deciding which plays to develop.”

Providing opportunities for young actors was a lifelong passion for Joyce. In the 1960s, she served as Canada’s representative on Assitej, the International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People, which continues to operate in Canada and Europe.

Joyce in front of the theatre named for her

Joyce in front of the theatre named for her

In 1971, Joyce recognized a need to provide affordable space for new drama companies and for children’s theatre. She set her sights on an abandoned water pumping station on Calgary’s west side, which in 1972 became Pumphouse Theatre. Ten years later the small pump room was renamed the Joyce Doolittle Theatre. Last year, Pumphouse honoured her and Quenten at an event that also showcased their artwork – another expression of their artistic interest.

“I have always felt that theatre for children shouldn’t speak down to them. Children’s theatre should be aimed at the whole family and convey ideas that everyone can find useful regardless of age. I spent 20 years of my life improving conditions for young actors and ensuring that the quality of production is every bit as good as production for adults.” In this video clip, Joyce talks about her passion for children’s theatre.

Joyce and Quenten live at United Active Living’s Garrison Green community, which is a strong supporter of the arts in Calgary. She believes it’s this lifelong passion for young actors and theatre in Calgary that brought her to the Governor General’s attention as an Order of Canada recipient.

Joyce in Eugene Stickland's play Queen Lear

Joyce in Eugene Stickland’s play Queen Lear

“I like to think that I helped make a difference in the artistic climate in Calgary,” she laughs. “I’ve been a cheerleader for good theatre all of my life. I wanted to create a climate for new old stuff and good new stuff, and I’m very honoured to be recognized for those achievements!”

While she has earned a little down time, Joyce continues to work with young actors in Calgary. She will be lending her expertise to students of Bishop Carroll High School in Calgary through a partnership between United Active Living and the Alberta Music Education Foundation. The project is an inter-generational storytelling project combining music and drama.

“I’ve been very blessed to be able to work and create in an artistic area that I have loved my whole life,” said Joyce. “I am honoured to receive the Order of Canada. It is very special because of the recipients who have won it before. I’m in good company!”

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

Contact us here!


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“Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” – James Sherman, author

The time between Christmas and New Years is a good time to think about what you want to do and where you want to be in 2018. It’s never too late to try something new. Ageist attitudes in our society often tell us the opposite. In fact, older adults often have the time to pursue new interests that they put on the back burner while raising a family. Do you want to start a health or exercise habit? Do you want to start a new hobby? How about learning to play an instrument?

We’ve compiled a list of 10 New Year’s resolutions, in no particular order, to get you thinking about personal improvements you would like to make. And we’ve included links to articles on the United website to help further your research:

  1. Eat healthy

“Dietitians don’t talk about calories very much any longer, unless there is a concern with weight. Instead, we want to ensure the calories you do get come from quality sources,” said Marie-Anne Nason, United’s nutritionist, in an article we published in April. You can read more from Marie-Anne here.

Of course, getting proper nutrition means preparing quality meals. Meals are based on feedback from residents. When they move in, food interests and issues are discussed with staff and noted in a database. When a resident comes in to eat, the kitchen staff knows what the person prefers and what ingredients to avoid.

You can watch our video on nutrition here.

2. Keep your brain active

We’ve written extensively on brain health and ensuring the mind stays active as an important component of active aging. Read more at these links:

The value of lifelong learning

Engaging in creative pursuits

Thriving as we get older

And you can watch our video on brain health here.

3. Exercise regularly

If you’re new to exercise, start slowly and build your way into a regular routine.  You can read more about the importance of regular exercise in this blog article.

4. Get involved

lauren-woods-calgary-opera-small-op

Calgary Opera regularly performs at Garrison Green

Isolation can seriously affect an older adult’s health. So get involved in community activities to make new friends and stay active. At United, there is a large variety of activities and ways to develop a community of friends.

Here is a link to our activities brochures so you can see the variety of activities available. Here is an article on the importance of community, and a video we produced on the value of community.

As well, United has signed partnership agreements with music and cultural organizations in the city. You can read more about that here.

5. Challenge yourself

quenten-with-viola-small-op

Quenten Doolittle performs on his viola

Expect more from yourself. Age is no limit. Make the rest of your life the best of your life by doing something you have always wanted to do. Here are articles about a couple of very inspirational people at United.

Mary Fenwick’s piano passion

The Doolittles: a passion for music and theatre

6. Planning for the future

Moving into a new year often means looking ahead and perhaps preparing to transition from your family home to an older adult community. Finances come into play, as does the psychology of moving. We’ve written extensively about this phase of an older adult’s life. You can read more in the links below:

All about United’s unique Life Lease

The future of aging

Top 5 questions to ask yourself when searching for an older adult community

7. Make a new friend

residents-talking-smallHaving someone to share your thoughts with is important for anyone, but especially so for older adults who can often find themselves isolated when friends and family move out of the community. At United, you are surrounded by potential new friends. Read more about community involvement here. And for those with memory issues, United ensures they are included in every activity.

8. Start a journal

One way to keep the mind active and the memories of a lifetime present is by starting a journal. United’s Writers-in-Residence program partners with students from Mount Royal University. You can watch a video about that here. As well, residents can learn more about writing at poetry and writing clubs and through a journaling program.

9. Discover a new hobby

art-studio-with-clay-sculptorHave you ever wanted to learn piano, or create a pot from a handful of clay? United has full art studios, staffed by professional artists to help get you started. Here are links to help you learn more.

Developing creativity

Pursuing creative interests

10. Decide what’s best for you

Most importantly decide what is in your best interest. Read, research and talk with your friends. Tour a few older adult communities to understand whether a move makes sense at this stage in your life. You can arrange a tour at United’s communities by clicking on the contact link below. And don’t hesitate to call and ask questions. You deserve the very best in your later years. We talk about that in this article.

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

Contact us here!


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92-year-old Mary Fenwick doesn’t shy away from a challenge. Last year, she performed during Mount Royal’s Sounds of the Season concert, playing a Christmas favourite on piano, supported by a full orchestra.

On Saturday, Mary will bring greetings from United Active Living – sponsors of the Sounds of the Season concert event.

“For the past six years that I’ve lived at United’s Garrison Green, my life has been full of joy and never-ending new experiences,” said Mary. “My first experience was in the Writers-in-Residence program [watch the video below], where students from Mount Royal’s English program interviewed us and captured highlights from our lives. That was a marvellous program. The students even made a children’s book from my life, which I treasure to this day.

 

Mary doesn’t equate life to a cup half full. To her, the cup is always completely full.
“United’s philosophy is to engage and excite and enlarge our lives, and that is what has happened in my life. Take last year’s Sounds of the Season concert. When Mount Royal first approached me I thought they wanted me to sing in the choir. But I soon realized they wanted me to play piano on stage. I thought I would just die, but when I walked out on the stage and whole orchestra gave me a thumb’s up, all the stage fright fell away and I had absolutely the best time.”

Mary, like so many other residents at United’s two communities, are shining examples of what life can be like in our later years.

“United’s partnerships with Mount Royal and other organizations in Calgary bring a lot of joy into our lives, and the opportunity to experience new things. I’m having so much fun right now!”

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

Contact us here!


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Jim Dolph is an older adult who embraces life. If he isn’t attending a concert, he’s in the art studio painting, or taking in an exercise class. “I often don’t have time or energy for all of the things I would like to do!” he said.

Jim will figure prominently this Sunday afternoon when Mount Royal University Conservatory will open the holiday musical season with its annual Winter Fantasia concert. It will showcase the work of the MRU Conservatory choral ensembles with the Conservatory Strings and a performance of A Christmas Wish by author Lori Evert and illustrator Per Breiehagen, courtesy of the MRU Speech Arts performers.

United Active Living counts Mount Royal as one of its key partnerships, and each year sponsors Winter Fantasia and Sounds of the Season (Dec. 16). Jim, who lives at United’s Garrison Green community, next door to Mount Royal University, will speak on behalf of United at the performance’s opening.

Jim is an avid guitar player, singer and painter who never runs out of interesting things to do.

“The partnership between United and Mount Royal gives us opportunities galore!” said Jim. “We are able to attend professional concerts, and often, those same musicians and gifted students come to our community to perform. That’s a real benefit for the residents who are less mobile.”

Jim has lived at Garrison Green for four years. He first heard about United while leafing through the Kerby Directory. He discovered several friends had moved to Garrison Green, and after speaking with them, he and his wife Laura decided to make the move from their home in nearby Lakeview.

In his opening remarks, Jim will thank Mount Royal for its partnership, and all of the programs and activities that go with it.

“I want to thank you for your support in participating with United,” he writes. “You bring entertainment and information into our homes, ranging from music to political discussions.”

The partnership with United brings musicians from the Conservatory and professors such as political science professor Duane Bratt and pianist and professor emeritus at the University of Calgary, Charles Foreman, to both United communities, and provides opportunities for residents to attend concerts. A second resident will also speak at Mount Royal’s Sounds of the Season concert Dec. 16.

“Personally, I enjoy singing in the choir led by Mary Lynn Schmidt. We learn and laugh and are becoming expert choristers. A little bit of arthritis has kept me away from the guitar, but recently I’m getting back into playing, and I really enjoy painting!” he said. “We also have writing workshops, which I’m also enjoying doing.”

So far, Jim has produced 25 water colours, many of which dot the hallways at Garrison Green.

“I have lots to do,” said Jim. “Laura died in 2015 and I think she would be pleased to see me enjoying interesting activities,” he said. “Because many of us here have lost a spouse, we can offer comfort and support to those who are going through the same thing.”

To read more about Garrison Green residents and their connection to Mount Royal’s winter concert season, read about resident Mary Fenwick who spoke and performed at last year’s Sounds of the Season. Read the story here.

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

Contact us here!

 

 


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“Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.” – Albert Einstein

Listening to an exceptionally talented pianist or putting paint brush to canvas highlight the extensive list of programs and activities available to residents who live at United’s two communities. United’s new program guides for Garrison Green and Fish Creek point to a wide variety of exciting programs coming up over the next three months.

“We have long known that age is no barrier to creativity,” said Kim Coulter, program coordinator, United’s Fish Creek community. “United provides the right atmosphere and opportunity to express ourselves. Our philosophy is to encourage residents to do that through the arts: singing, music, drawing, painting, dance, pottery and sculpture, plus the opportunity to attend professional and amateur performances both outside the community and in our own theatres.”

United’s extensive list of programs and activities – both specialty programs and events, and regular programs – set United apart through the variety that is offered, and the program partnerships with Calgary’s art and cultural organizations.

“At United, being creative isn’t a hobby. It’s a way of life,” said Monica Schmidt, program coordinator, United’s Garrison Green community. “We have professional artists on staff who provide support for every level, from those who have never picked up a brush or a handful of clay, to residents who were attracted to United because they can continue their lifelong passion for art.”

garrison-green-art2United has fully stocked art studios at both Garrison Green and Fish Creek communities, plus one-of-a-kind art galleries to display resident artworks as well as showings of professional work. Not only is it fun, but expression through the  arts can have health benefits we are just starting to understand.

As well, participation in the arts encourages connecting with others and making new friends – a cornerstone of our philosophy. Research shows that older adults who are the most socially engaged remain healthy and active. Community develops when everyone has a choice, when residents are active, learning new things and participating in community events that they find interesting and stimulating.

United’s comprehensive list of upcoming specialty and ongoing programs at both communities is available online so that residents and their families can see what’s available and make plans to participate.

Both lists are online at these links:

Garrison Green program link

Fish Creek program link

“When you see everything written down in one location, you realize just how extensive the programs and activities are,” said Kim. “It’s what makes living in a United community exciting and fun. There’s always something new and the programs are changing and evolving all the time based on resident input.”

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

Contact us here!


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Eighty-nine year old Betty Earle and her husband moved into United’s Garrison Green community seven years ago. They decided to make the move while they were healthy and independent. Betty is grateful for that decision because she is surrounded by friends and a community that has supported her during some difficult times. Along the way, Betty has become a gifted artist. We sat down with Betty to discuss the importance of community in her later years.

“My husband Ed and I decided to make the move from our family home to United’s Garrison Green community seven years ago, and it was one of our best decisions. It was important that we make the decision while we were healthy. A few years later, in 2012, my husband passed away. It was a very difficult time, but I can’t imagine what it would have been like if I was living by myself in our home. I’m very glad that I’m here. I would hate to be out there all alone with nobody to talk to. Here, I have so many friends and there were a lot of people who helped me get through that time.

“Then a couple of years ago I was out shopping and tripped on the sidewalk outside the store. I hit my head very hard. I went to the hospital, but the doctors said everything was fine. Very shortly after that I started having memory problems. I was forgetting the names of familiar people, and not remembering my phone number. Since then, the memory problems have been sneaking up on me quickly, and I’m getting quite worried about it. My son is very helpful, making sure that I make my appointments and getting me to write down the things I need to remember.

“It’s embarrassing and frustrating at times, especially when I can’t find the right word when I’m telling a story over dinner, but I have a great group of friends here who don’t mind filling in the blanks. We laugh about it and that makes a big difference.

“I can’t say enough about the staff and, of course, the people who live here. We are all very supportive of each other and it’s that kind of community that makes all the difference.

“Another very important difference at United is the intelligent programs. I say intelligent because the programs aren’t intended to just keep us busy. There are lectures from Mount Royal University, all kinds of music programs from the Calgary Philharmonic and the Calgary Opera and others. It’s gives us a lot of new things to experience.

“One of those for me, was opera. I was never a fan. I’m more into jazz, but when a friend suggested we go watch an opera from New York that was showing at Chinook Theatre, I gave it a try. Now I’m hooked. The performance was very interesting and now I go whenever I can.

“The art studio is another place that I really enjoy. A few years ago we did a paint pour, where various colours of paint were poured down a pole so they mixed at the bottom. The result was an amazing kaleidoscope painting. I saved a few of the dried pieces and use them in my artwork. The professional artists here give me suggestions and it really sparks my creativity. The staff and residents – we’re all part of this wonderful community.

“I think it all comes down to community – having a group of friends and knowing I’m not the only one who might be having memory concerns. This is life, and it’s going to happen to everyone to one degree or another. If I have any advice for someone – don’t forget to laugh. Find something that makes you happy so you don’t worry about things all the time. That’s what I like about living here. I’m surrounded by friends who make me laugh.”

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

Contact us here!


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Calgary Opera's latest resident conductor, Kimberley-Ann Bartzcak.

Calgary Opera’s resident conductor, Kimberley-Ann Bartczak. Photo by Alain Dupere

Kimberley-Ann Bartczak has been named by Calgary Opera as its latest resident conductor and repetiteur, or coach for the Opera’s singers.

She brings plenty of experience to her new role. Originally from Montreal, she is also on staff at Opera on the Avalon in St. John’s,  Newfoundland. She has also worked in other Canadian cities, in Italy and Germany. In Calgary, while preparing the mainstage productions during rehearsals, coaching the principal actors and assisting the conductors, Kimberly-Ann will conduct Calgary Opera’s Christmas at the Opera, a Choral Extravaganza running Dec. 1-3, which features artists from the emerging artist development program.

Currently, she is assisting former resident conductor Christopher Topher Mokrzewski, who will be conducting the Barber of Seville, which starts Nov. 18.

“I have two roles as resident conductor,” explains Kimberley-Ann. “I am head pianist for all of the rehearsals, and I play with the orchestra during the shows when necessary. As well, I assist the conductor, which is a great learning opportunity as I transition into the role of conductor.”

Kimberley-Ann is well aware that female conductors are still rare in Canada. “I see myself as a conductor, not as a female conductor. It really comes down to how you interpret the music and how you communicate your ideas around the music. The whole idea that conducting is a male profession is changing.”

She became interested in opera in her late twenties. Now 34, she has embraced the art form. “I was mostly into the choral community, but when I saw my first opera I was taken by the singing, acting, dancing, the orchestra and the whole spectacle of it. An opera is such a huge show, a real collaborative effort involving a lot of people.”

She is a big fan of introducing opera to a young audience. “To really appreciate opera, young people need access to the various elements of the production. I’m a big advocate of bringing opera to them in the classroom. Opera connects with an audience on so many levels. We just need to do more of it.”

As well, she appreciates the intimacy of performing for a small audience. She will be speaking and performing for United’s Garrison Green residents January 29.

“Calgary Opera is an important partner of ours, and we are particularly pleased to be sponsoring Kimberley-Ann as resident conductor,” said United music director Jill LaForty. “With her visits to our communities our residents will have a special opportunity to build a relationship with her over the duration of her appointment. And United’s philosophy is all about remaining active and creative in your later years. We appreciate that Calgary Opera both brings opera directly to our residents in-house and gives them an opportunity to attend their productions at the Jubilee. We have some real opera buffs who not only love the Calgary Opera performances but who also take advantage of excursions to the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD which are shown regularly on the big screen at Chinook Theatre.”

Kimberly-Ann looks forward to achieving her goal of becoming a conductor. “My transition to conductor is already happening. I’m learning so much by assisting the conductors and in my role as repetiteur. The role of conductor is all encompassing. They need to know each instrument in the orchestra and how that sound fits into the bigger picture. There is so much involved, and I’m looking forward to learning everything I can about the role over the next few years here at Calgary Opera.”

Why wait? Call today to arrange a tour!

Imagine! Flex your creative side. Fine dining. New friends. Luxurious suites. Live the lifestyle you deserve at one of our United Active Living communities. Click the button on the right to arrange a tour at Garrison Green or Fish Creek

Do you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community? Send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a tour. We are happy to help! 

Contact us here!


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President and CEO Kim O'Brien

President and CEO Kim O’Brien

Kim O’Brien joined United Active Living as president and CEO just seven weeks ago. During that time she has met residents and staff and immersed herself in United’s unique, older adult lifestyle. She describes what is happening at United as “something special”.

“I’ve really been taken by the progressive view of aging that is the basis for everything United does,” said Kim. “Before coming here, I’m sure I had a preconceived idea about what growing older meant and how that affected my own approach to aging, but it’s clear from seeing how active and involved residents are in the programs and activities that age is something to celebrate rather than fight.”

Her view of aging came from a positive experience with her grandparents. Her grandfather recently passed away, and her grandmother lives on her own and remains very active. “I see my grandparents from a different perspective now. Growing up, I didn’t give a second thought to how active they were. But I realize now that staying active was a choice they made. Here’s a good example. It turns out that a good friend of mine has a grandfather who was a resident here. He was very involved in the art studio, and that choice, his family shared with me, added years to his quality of life.”

Resident Jim Dolph shares a laugh with new CEO Kim O'Brien

Resident Jim Dolph shares a laugh with new CEO Kim O’Brien

Kim says that United has achieved a perfect blend of community and individuality. Residents can be as involved as they choose to be, meals are served when its convenient for residents, and programs, activities and outings ensure there is something interesting for everyone. As resident Jim Dolph said after emerging from an exercise class, “There is so much to do here, I can manage only a quarter of what I want to do!”

Kim is well aware of the questions residents and family might ask when a new CEO comes on board. But she is committed to watch, listen and learn, and to build upon what United has already achieved.

“My focus right now is on deepening my understanding of what works and – in some cases – what doesn’t work for staff and residents so that I can see the areas that we can build upon. This is a collaborative effort and I’m eager to hear from residents and staff so we can collectively build an even better community,” she said.

She describes her hiring as putting her in a unique position. She isn’t replacing former president Gail Hinchliffe, but rather continuing to work closely with her as both transition into their new positions. “Bringing in a new CEO usually means the former CEO has left, but in this case, Gail has simply shifted her role. She has been a valuable resource to have at my side. There is a strong foundation that has developed here that we can continue to build on as a team.”

Kim has noticed a strong sense of community when she visits with residents and families. “When people ask what living at United is all about, we invite them to come to see for themselves. There is nothing better than experiencing what happens here for yourself. There is a real sense of vibrancy.”

She points to the lack of imposed structure in how residents live. “Living here doesn’t mean giving up your ability to choose. You can participate in whatever you want. We don’t dictate your meal time, or when to go to the art room.”

She pauses to find the right words, and says, “United’s philosophy and approach to aging is challenging the stereotypes about what growing older means. There is definitely something special here.”

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