Most of our concerts are performed by two singers, usually Maria Arakie (soprano) and Glenn Wilson (baritone), although other singers are occasionally added to order. They are accompanied by a top rate pianist, such as Carol Wells, Nicholas Bosworth, Gavin Mole, Julian Jacobson, Antony Gray and Sheila Thomas, according to availability. All are fully trained and experienced performers. We seek to provide a high quality entertainment for older people in Greater London, many of whom are frail and vulnerable or socially isolated due to circumstance or illness. The venues we visit include homes, hospitals, hospices, day care centres, sheltered housing and community-based clubs for elders.
Connaught Opera was formed in 2003. We are a Registered Charity No. 1131004. Our management committee comprises Maria Arakie Chair, Glenn Wilson Treasurer, Alan Steinfeld QC Secretary, Shabir Dawood Trustee and Dr. William Acker Trustee.
We are delighted to welcome as our Patron Mr. Billy Dove, MBE, JP, Deputy. Member for Bishopsgate Ward, Chairman of The City Bridge Trust.
Pictured with the team at H.M. Tower of London.
The charity sector has been criticised for the high remuneration given to some of its workers. Our ethos has always been to ensure that all our income is restricted to fulfilling the grants we have been awarded. Although performers are paid a small, set fee for their services, we have no salaried employees and no expenses are paid to our Trustees.
The Charity Commission has agreed that Connaught Executives/Trustees may be paid reasonable performance fees provided they are in a minority of the Committee that sets the fee. Two are indeed regular performers. However, neither is irreplaceable; if one is unavailable or indisposed a talented substitute can be drafted in. This has occasionally happened in the past, with the result that we have never in our ten year history had to cancel a planned concert.
Apart from our standard repertoire of Anglo-American musicals and operetta, in order to best serve the cultural diversity present in the older population of Greater London, we include medleys catering specifically to French, Italian, Spanish, Welsh, Irish, Scottish, Hebrew, West Indian and, recently, Hindi groups. We seek to include everyone in our concerts by presenting a glamorous and lively performance - this can mean wearing bright reds for a partially sighted audience to enjoy (the last colour in the spectrum to be lost in the visually impaired), changing repertoire and costumes for repeat visits, and so on.
ABOVE: A bit of Bollywood in Ilford.
During the recent year of Heritage and Culture, we arranged concerts at Heritage sites in the London Boroughs to which older people were transported so they could enjoy a concert in a fabulous setting, giving them a magical outing. The Heritage sites in which we performed were: Valance House Museum, Barking & Dagenham; Eastbury Manor House, Barking; Avenue House, Barnet; Hall Place, Bexley; Brent Town Hall, Brent; Pitshanger Manor, Ealing; Forty Hall, Enfield; St. Ann’s Library, Haringey; Headstone Manor, Harrow; Langtons Hall, Havering; Winston Churchill Hall, Hillingdon; Osterley Park, Hounslow; Hampton Court Palace, Kingston; The Canon’s House, Merton; Ilford Chapel, Redbridge; The Octagon, Orleans Gallery, Richmond; Carew Manor, Sutton and Wigmore Hall, Westminster.
Our grateful thanks to the Charitable Trusts, Community Funds, Lottery Funders, Arts Trusts and London Borough Councils who have contributed so generously to Connaught Opera in order that we might continue our work, promoting community cohesion within the network of care for older people in Greater London Boroughs and the South East of England. These benefactors are listed below. We also wish to thank the day centres, nursing homes, hospice and hospitals who paid fees directly to Connaught Opera for additional bookings. Yamaha and Markson Pianos have been brilliant in their support by loaning us grand pianos for our Knebworth House and Hampton Court Palace concerts.
Principal Benefactors, listed alphabetically:
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