The Sunday Magazine

"The Person I've Become" - an Alisa Siegel documentary

Alisa Siegel's documentary "The Person I've Become" tells the moving story of a remarkable intergenerational choir.
Julissa (in red) and Leitha (in grey sweater) sing together in the Intergenerational Choir. (Bruce Wray, Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex)

In ripped jeans and sweatshirts, every Thursday afternoon, two dozen of them step off the bus. Teenagers from the local high school, ready for something none of them ever skip. It's their favourite event of the week. Choir rehearsal — where the singers range in age from 14 to 92.

The Intergenerational Choir was the brainchild of the people at the Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex. They turned to Medway High School — with its excellent music program — for strong young voices. And to the Sisters of St. Joseph, just down the road, for their magnificent chapel. Teenagers, people with Alzheimer's and nuns. A remarkable choir was born.

Alisa Siegel's documentary takes us into a Thursday afternoon rehearsal. It's called "The Person I've Become."

PLEASE NOTE: Shortly after Alisa's documentary aired in April 2016, Leitha Purko died. Her young choir friend, Julissa Litterick, is headed this fall to the University of Guelph to study neuroscience and psychology. She hopes to learn more about Alzheimer's, and to continue to work with people who live with it. In October the Alzheimer Society London Middlesex is launching a second Intergenerational Choir. Good luck to them.

The members of The Intergenerational Choir

(all photos by Bruce Wray, Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex)

Julissa and Leitha (Bruce Wray, Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex)
Student holds hands with one of the Sisters of St. Joseph. (Bruce Wray, Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex)
Left to right: Jim (second from left), Naoimh Sylvester, Harry (Bruce Wray, Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex)
Kathy McNaughton conducts the Intergenerational Choir. (Bruce Wray, Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex)
Documentary producer Alisa Siegel recording the Intergenerational Choir rehearsal. (Bruce Wray, Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex)
Julissa Litterick and Leitha. (Bruce Wray, Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex)
L-R: Naoimh Sylvester and Harry Reynolds get ready to sing at choir rehearsal. (Alisa Siegel)
Jim Beacom (Bruce Wray, Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex)
Sister Mary Diesbourg (in black jacket at right). (Bruce Wray, Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex)

now