The Interability Chorus Performs “This is Me”

After weeks of working with Palm Beach Opera and Whole Vibes, the Interability Chorus, made up of adults with disabilities and special needs, presents a collaborative digital performance of “This is Me” from the popular film “The Greatest Showman.”

Now in its second term, the one-of-a-kind music program is a partnership between Palm Beach Opera, music therapist Erica Lyles of Whole Vibes, and the Els Center of Excellence. The Interability Chorus brings adults with disabilities and special needs together to socialize, collaborate, develop musical skills and express themselves in an inclusive setting.

As the pandemic hit, the partnering organizations mobilized and turned their in-person sessions into virtual ones, providing music, lyrics and rehearsal tracks to participants digitally. The rehearsals were held through the video conference platform Zoom, and focused not only on learning the music and their cues to sing, but also on identifying emotion through music – a key mission of the program.

“One of our main goals of the program is to help participants connect emotion to music,” said James Clements, Palm Beach Opera’s assistant director of education and community engagement. “On all of our lyric sheets, we included emoji symbols next to the words to help our choristers understand which emotions go with which lyrics, and to encourage them to express those emotions while singing. We chose ‘This is Me’ from ‘The Greatest Showman’ because we felt it had a powerful message of pride and acceptance.”

“It’s been important for us to continue our rehearsals virtually not only to gain musical skills, but to also process feelings and emotions,” said Lyles. “We encountered new challenges due to the Coronavirus, but our participants adapted and continued to find and use their own unique voices through it all. ‘This is Me’ is a chance for our participants to be heard and seen – the Interability Chorus participants never cease to amaze me!”

The Interability Chorus’ performance of “This is Me” is available to view, stream and share for free on Vimeo, and is also available on Palm Beach Opera’s PBO@Home page.

“We are honored to continue this impactful community partnership and help individuals foster social skills, self-esteem and expression in a welcoming space,” said David Walker, Palm Beach Opera’s general director. “We are immensely proud of their performance.”