Viola Virtuoso brings classical music to life for Churchill Owners

Apartment Owners at Churchill Retirement Living’s new Eastbourne and Peacehaven developments recently enjoyed live entertainment from a classical music performer who has formed a close ‘virtual’ connection with Churchill during the pandemic.

The highly talented Caroline Harrison is a former co-principal viola for the BBC Symphony Orchestra. During the pandemic, with lockdown restrictions often preventing her from playing to a live audience, Caroline reached out to Churchill and offered to perform free of charge via Zoom to anyone who would like to listen. It was a way of staying connected and keeping music alive during what was a difficult time for many.

She built up a loyal following who would regularly tune in to listen and talk about her music, but until now all her performance had taken place behind a computer screen. With restrictions now lifted and live music back on the menu, Caroline took the opportunity to visit a couple of Churchill developments to perform face-to-face for the first time!

Like her ‘virtual viola’ format, the events involved a diverse mixture of classical and more up-to-date pieces, followed by an informal Q&A session about her music, and her interesting life and career. Owners found it both entertaining and informative, with many describing it as “something different” from their usual programme of social events.

Caroline said: “I was delighted to finally be able to go and perform in person to Churchill Owners in Eastbourne and Peacehaven.  The realisation of just how important live music is for both the listener and the performer was very evident, and having been doing this via the Zoom platform for the past eighteen months it was really wonderful to connect in person with some of the people who have tuned in regularly, and have the opportunity to meet new listeners too.”

Churchill’s Head of News Ian Payne, who helped to facilitate Caroline’s performances, added: “We’re incredibly lucky to have had such a top quality musician performing live for us over the last 18 months, bringing people together from all over the country to listen and talk about her music. What started off as a way to reach out to people during the pandemic slowly evolved into a friendly community of music lovers, with lots of familiar faces joining in each time, along with plenty of new ones.

“We’ve all been able to share not just the music, but also our experiences of lockdown and the gradual journey ‘back to normal’. Seeing Caroline play in person at our developments was a great way to celebrate this. I’d like to say a big thank you to her and everyone else who helped make it happen, and I look forward to seeing her live performances continue, both online and in person!”