High Notes Voices is starting up again TOMORROW, Friday, October 13th at 10:30-11:30 at the Plaza Suite at the Richmond Hill Centre for Performing Arts (10269 Yonge Street). The FREE session lasts 10 weeks and welcomes anyone who likes to sing.
Care to join? Reply to this email. Here is a bit about our choir leader:
Sina Fallah’s life story is one told in music, with a particular focus on helping those touched by mental illness. As a child in Iran, his mother sought out a piano teacher who could teach him classical music – a love he carries through to this day.
After arriving in Canada and later finishing high school, he wished to attend university to study composing and film scoring, but his family had other ideas. “Culturally, that just wasn’t something we did. Law school would have been okay, though,” he laughs, reflecting on that time.
Sina compromised by studying psychology, and in his final year at the University of Toronto took a course on human behaviour and exceptionality. The course looked at 16 individuals in detail – each of whom was exceptional in their own way, and many of whom were touched by mental health issues.
Moreover he found a kindred spirit in the professor, Dr. Stuart Kamenetsky, who shared his love of classical music. The two began to play music together, and still do so. The lessons from Dr. Kamenetsky inspires Sina’s work to this day – catering to provide musical education in various forms to those in need, specifically to those within the mental health community. This includes doing work with organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Society of Toronto, Baycrest Health Sciences, and Dixon Hall.
Sina has also worked closely with longtime High Notes Avante friend Dr. Frank Russo, using his expertise to support Dr. Russo’s lab work and to assist with projects that support the health of older adults through group singing.
Sina has led High Notes Avante’s group singing program for several years now, and we are proud to have him. Our choir started just prior to the pandemic, but immediately needed to pivot to group singing online. “A lot of people actually prefer the online format,” says Sina, “despite the hardships in technology, there are various reasons why it works well for people.”
It also pushed him personally – instead of having an accompanist and other resources available within arm’s reach, Sina needed to learn how to play, sing, teach, and broadcast simultaneously on his own.
Tomorrow, Sina’s group singing sessions will officially resume in person, but there will still be an online hybrid component available.
“For people with anxiety, or other mental health issues they may not feel comfortable going out in public, or even being seen on camera. Yet there are people who attend the virtual sessions with their microphone and camera off, who do not participate actively, but who still want to stay informed of those next sessions. That’s why (online) we do things so casually. You can come when you want, leave when you want, and everyone is welcome,” says Sina.
At the end, it all comes back to how mental health is so often uplifted by music.
Sina is thrilled to return to the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts, and hope that you’ll join him in-person as many Fridays that you are so able.