Canadian soprano Linda Perillo was touring her home country in 2001 and stopped to visit her father in his nursing home.
"It was so gloomy," Linda remembers. "It was the day George Harrison died and my brother said ‘why don’t you play something, some Beatles songs?’
"All the residents gathered round the piano and they were singing along. My dad sprang to life. The nurses said there were people smiling who hadn’t smiled in years." It was this realisation, of the therapeutic effects of music, that prompted Linda to establish the Joy of Singing classes that she has been running in North Finchley for the last four years.
There are now five classes a week, held at Trinity Church on Nether Street, and they are open to people of all ages, abilities and experience.
Linda was nominated for a Civic Award in 2011 for her work promoting the social and physical benefits of singing, and has been asked by the Community Focus Group, subsidised by Barnet Council, to take her singing classes to old age homes across the borough.
Twice a year, Linda gathers her 100 plus singers together for concerts, where they present some of the pieces they’ve been working on - a wide range of music including Broadway and pop tunes - in aid of the North London Peace Hospice. "So far we’ve raised quite a few thousand pounds. It’s a nice gift for the singers to be able to give their singing to other people."
The next Joy of Singing concert is on Wednesday, March 14 at Trinity Church, Nether Street, North Finchley. For more details, contact Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org.