‘Songs for Elizabeth’: A Royal performance for Age UK Richmond in honour of The Queen

A musical tribute to the Queen called ‘Songs for Elizabeth’ took place this week for older community members in Richmond.

Age UK Richmond clients were treated to a special performance by Maria and The Connaught Opera at Orleans House Gallery in Twickenham on 5 October.

The event took place in the Baroque Octagon Room, established in 1720.

The palatial room boasts paintings of classic Roman ruins along with portraits of royalty, including George I. 

The setting matched the mood for the concert’s full title: ‘Songs for Elizabeth: A Tribute to our Late Beloved Queen’.

Maria Arakie, one of three performers and chair of the opera company, offered Age UK Richmond 25 free tickets to attend the event.

Marie-Thérèse Keegan, wellbeing services coordinator for Age UK Richmond, said: “These outings provide older people with a day out to look forward to in the company of other older people from the borough.”

Many elderly people suffer from loneliness during the latter part of their lives and Marmalade Trust, the UK’s leading loneliness charity, works to spread awareness of the physical and mental health risks this may pose. 

According to their website, around two million people in the UK over the age of 75 live alone while half a million go at least five days a week without seeing anyone at all. 

The pandemic has only made the situation worse and by 2026, loneliness levels are estimated to reach a record high.

Keegan emphasised the importance of interaction and said: “New friendships are often forged as a new experience is shared. 

“Some older people may have lost their spouse and with it their confidence to socialise.”

This week, the new experience shared was a 50 minute, dazzling performance that included Arakie donning a sparkly dress and a blonde wig as she transformed into Marilyn Monroe to sing her rendition of ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’. 

Members of the Connaught Opera performing underneath a chandelier in the Octagon Room
A ROYAL PERFORMANCE: Members of the Connaught Opera performing My Fair Lady songs | IMAGE CREDIT: Scarlett Poppy Clark

In line with the theme of the concert, Maria was also adorned in pearls and wore a grey wig in honour of the late Queen Elizabeth. 

Members of The Connaught Opera, Maria, Glenn Wilson and pianist Nicholas Bosworth went on to highlight all of the Queen’s favourite songs, plays, hobbies and interests. 

The performance closed with an interactive singalong of some of Her Majesty’s most beloved Vera Lynn army-themed songs in admiration of her work as a driver during World War Two. 

Audience members loved the magical morning.

The Connaught Opera team opening the show in the Baroque Octagon room.
OPENING NUMBER: The Connaught Opera team opening the show | IMAGE CREDIT: Scarlett Poppy Clark

An 82 year-old Age UK Richmond client, Brenda, attended the performance with her friend Rosemary.

Brenda said: “We were entertained to a high standard.

“The singing was wonderful with a superb pianist, who entertained us royally to rousing music and songs.

“I think the entertainment they provide cheers everyone up enormously in these times of anxiety and worry.”

For almost two decades, The Connaught Opera have arranged and performed around 200 concerts a year for older people in London. 

A spokesperson for the company said: “The concerts are always popular and are a great morale booster, bringing joy and sometimes tears of remembrance.”

Featured image credit – Scarlett Poppy Clark

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