Sharps & Flats Christmas concert is a show-stopper

The Sharps & Flats entertained the neighbors at Arbor Acres during their annual Christmas concert.

Sharps & Flats Christmas  concert is a show-stopper
December 26
04:00 2019

80-voice Arbor Acres chorus has an average age of 85

By Martha Murphy

Christmas is the season of traditions and at Arbor Acres Retirement Community, among the most treasured of traditions are the annual Sharps & Flats Christmas concerts.

The Sharps & Flats is an 80-voice resident chorus with an average age of 85 that meets weekly from August through May to rehearse their Christmas and spring shows. The group has developed quite a following since transitioning from a 15-member rhythm band in 2014. 

This group is no ordinary retirement community hymn-sing choir. It’s an all-volunteer show chorus complete with costumes, choreography, soloists, instrumentalists, high-energy repertoire—and lots of camp! 

The 2019 Christmas concerts featured Austrian, French, and Spanish carols, African dancing and drumming, two siblings performing “Sisters” from the movie White Christmas, a medley of Christmas songs with a country-western theme, a moving Nativity scene tableau, a Zumba class dancing to Feliz Navidad, and a 101-year-old resident singing solo on a Christmas song to which she wrote the lyrics.

The group performed two live Christmas shows to packed houses of friends and family—more than 150 people each night—who expressed their enthusiasm with spirited, extended standing ovations. Both shows were live-streamed through Arbor Acres’ in-house TV channel, and public viewings were available on large-screen TVs in common areas so residents and staff across the campus could enjoy the performances.

Sharps & Flats is unique for another special reason. Residents from all levels of care—independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing—participate, contributing whatever talent they wish to share. There are no auditions and previous music experience is not necessary. The result? An experience full of fun, joy and nostalgia for participants and their audiences!

Coordinating the Christmas shows is no small feat. For residents unable to get themselves to rehearsal performances, Arbor Acres provides on-campus transportation. The recreation department works with residents to make needed props. Residents put together their own homegrown costumes and make-up. Volunteers help choreograph each number and assist backstage with props and costume changes. 

Two tireless volunteers make all this happen: Sharps & Flats co-directors Loma Hopkins and Art Bloom.

Loma is a retired music teacher from Summit School where she taught for more than 50 years. Art is a former marketing executive with a passion and talent for music who served as Cantor at Temple Emanuel in Winston-Salem for 25 years.

This duo creates the concepts for each concert, selects music, assigns parts, rehearses every week with the chorus, and handles the myriad details that comes with the staging of a major production, including marketing and administration. Art and Loma operate under one single rule: members of the Sharps & Flats must have fun AND do things to take them out of their comfort zones. 

On the surface, the Sharps & Flats appear to be a group formed around a shared love of music. Beneath the surface, however, there is something much deeper going on. 

In the safety of a supportive environment, Sharps & Flats allows participants to connect with things long forgotten and return to a joyful place where they can simply be themselves and experience the magic of Christmas once again.

Martha Murphy is the marketing arts specialist for Arbor Acres Retirement Community. For information on Arbor Acres, visit

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