Kaufmann brings Music of the Night to Lacombe
Anna Maria Kaufmann, pictured inside Anna Maria’s Cafe in Lacombe, will return to city in February to perform two special concerts in tribute to her mother, Ruth Kaufmann, who passed away after Christmas last year. (Ashli Barret/Lacombe Globe)
Lacombe native and world-renowned opera singer Anna Maria Kaufmann has lent her voice to many causes, but in February she’ll use it to pay tribute to her mother, the late Ruth Kaufmann.
On Feb. 10 and 11, she’ll return to the city to perform “Music of the Night” at St. Stephen’s Parish, the very church she and her mother belonged to.
“It’s going to be difficult for me in some ways, because no matter what age you lose someone, there’s still a process of grieving,” said Kaufmann, speaking with the Globe from Munich. “But I’ve been on tour and I’ve found I have a special grace and love in connecting with people, a new kind of strength I didn’t have before.”
For someone who’s performed 500 times as Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera, landed a leading role in Elvita, as well as performed in Jesus Christ Superstar, as well as opened at the World Cup of Soccer and sung for the Pope, it’s hard to imagine a kind of strength and grace she didn’t have performing before.
It’s a testament to her mother, who she says was the perfect model of what a person should be.
“She was my biggest influence,” she said. “She loved everyone, she loved people. She was generous and kind. She had a real witty sense of humour...Everyone knew her and everyone loved her and that’s the biggest compliment you can give someone.”
Ruth Kaufmann originally was a teacher in junior and senior high school in Illinois. While working towards a master’s degree, she met Martin Kaufmann, a Canadian veteran working towards his PhD in Agronomy. They married in 1954, and when he was employed at the Canadian Agriculture Research Station, she put her teaching career aside and moved with him to Lacombe.
With extra time on her hands, she turned to volunteering and when the Meals-on-Wheels program started, she was the first to deliver a meal.She helped organize Father Lacombe Day, became the hostess for the Welcome Wagon, and for a time was chair of the Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce. In 1991, she was named Citizen of the Year, and spent four decades reading, working with and putting smiles on the faces of seniors at the nursing home, seniors lodge and Kozy Korner.
She died Dec. 26, 2017 at the age of 98.
Fittingly, her funeral service will be held following her daughter’s two concerts on Feb. 12 at 2 p.m. at the church.
“I’m so happy I got to go to the opening of the church with my mother, so she’s blessed it and will be with us always,” said Kaufmann. “She was so proud - she was my biggest supporter.
“She always loved it when I included other people, so she'd be really happy to know I've invited other artists to come.”
Kaufmann will be joined by several musicians including Mexican tenor Jorge Jimenez, and René Giessen, a world-famous harmonica player.
Musicians based closer to Lacombe will also perform, including a piano player from Red Deer, and another young tenor, Dakota, from Burman University.
“I love to support Canadian musicians,” she said. “I’m really fortunate I can have all these friends and great musicians join me - I’ll have a lot of talent around me.”
While she’s excited about performing among friends, she’s especially eager to perform in front of familiar faces in her hometown.
“I love and am so proud of Lacombe. It will always be my home and I’ll come back as often as I can,” she said. “I hope people are excited to come and have a wonderful time. It should be a fun evening of wonderful music.”
Concerts will be held on Saturday, Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. and on Sunday, Freb. 11 at 3 p.m.
Tickets for both concerts are $50 each and include wine and light refreshments at intermission. They can be purchased at Healthfitters at 5015-50th Ave. in Lacombe, or through Annette at (403)391-2182 or Lucille at (403)391-3068.
Proceeds from the concert will go towards the St. Stephens building fund.