After their subway performance, 3 singers received a thank you note they'll never forget.

10-12 times a month, Opera Collective sends small groups of singers to New York City subway stations to perform.

Founded in 2005 by opera singer George Kasarjian and a few of his friends, Opera Collective is a rotating group of 30 trained opera voices in New York City. The performers are in different stages of their careers. Some are just starting out, others have spent years in the business, but they all share one goal: Make opera accessible.

And when you want to share something with the people of New York City, what better place to do it than the subway?


All photos by Opera Collective, used with permission.

It may not seem like the ideal venue to make music, but with ample acoustics and large audiences, Kasarjian wouldn't trade it.

"Oftentimes the subway is a loud environment with all kinds of distractions. But there are these moments between trains and between screaming people where beautiful, profound musical moments happen."

And Monday night, Sept. 21, 2015, in the Union Square station, members of Opera Collective did something amazing without even knowing it at the time.


There was just something special about Monday's performance at Union Square.

"I recall all three of us performing our strongest repertoire ... and there were times during our stay there that we had quite a crowd," said Alexis Cregger, an Opera Collective performer.

She saw a woman sitting and listening for quite awhile. "Any time anyone stays for longer than the time it takes to catch their train, it lifts our spirits, as it shows we're really touching someone," she told Upworthy.

Turns out, they did just that. And a whole lot more.

When the group finished singing, they found this note in their tip bucket:

The note reads: "I sat and listened to you 3 sing for maybe over an hour. You guys are amazing. Today was one of the worst days of my life and I was contemplating suicide but your voices filled me with a peaceful sensation and joy. Thank you. Ana (girl in the pink vest)."

This wasn't the first time they'd received a note like this.

Opera Collective performers have received warm displays of gratitude in the past, Kasarjian says, speaking from personal experience, "I've had people just come up to me and just cry on me in the subway; people who you would never think would react, they react very strongly."

Yet each time it occurs, it reinforces something for the performers and fans alike.

Cregger puts it best: "Music truly has the power to touch people's souls."

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

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"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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