Sometimes, people simply find themselves in the right place at the right time. And the timing that God
puts together can lead to some amazing new relationships.
Back in the fall of 2017, New Canaan Society ministry partner, Andrzej Turkanik, was speaking at a dinner in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. A couple named Norman Reinhardt and Soula Parassidis, a pair of married opera singers, were in attendance as they happened to be in North Carolina at the same time. While the opera singers were in town, Stu Epperson, an active NCS member and his wife, Nancy, were invited to meet them. Through this meeting, the idea was born to hold an evening of opera and faith to reach the arts community with the message of Jesus.
What makes Reinhardt and Parassidis’s faith significant is that they are Christians living in Europe in an industry that isn’t particularly religious. The pair are dedicated followers of Jesus and married – both of which leave them somewhat isolated within their music industry.
Reinhardt is originally from Hickory, North Carolina – so his Carolina connection comes naturally. The Eppersons hit it off immediately with the opera singers, and as the four shared their faith, they conceived of the idea for the Inspirational Evening of Dinner and Opera that was held this past February.
The event took place in Winston-Salem at the Gray Auditorium in Old Salem. It was not a fundraiser; rather, it simply served as an evening of fellowship, faith-sharing and (of course) a bit of opera. The Eppersons served as the hosts, and approximately 150 people attended.
Reinhardt and Parassidis gave a lovely performance and then Parassidis gave a compelling story of how she found the hope of Jesus. The story included a meandering life path involving overcoming thyroid cancer, learning to sing opera and eventually developing the career of her dreams. Yet it didn’t give Parassidis complete fulfilment. Eventually, she met Reinhardt – while at a low point in her life – and was moved by his faith. She shared how he used to read the bible out loud to her. Parassidis came to pray herself for change and found herself feeling differently one day…and committed to a life with Christ.
At the end of the evening, the Eppersons shared what was in their own hearts and with a sensitive boldness offered a message of hope through a personal relationship with Jesus to everyone in the room (and several did).
Our ministry partners, like Andrzej Turkanik, are powerful advocates for sharing NCS out in the world – and we value their ability to connect us to people with impactful stories and lives that serve as examples for living out their faith.
A little about Andrzej Turkanik
Dr. Andrzej Turkanik serves as the Executive Director of the Quo Vadis Institute, based in Salzburg, Austria. Originally from Poland, Turkanik leads an organization dedicated to critical thinking where influencers and leaders in Europe can reflect on matters crucial to the future, celebrate the diversity and uniqueness of the voices of Europe, and contribute to the shaping of a sustainable European society.
A little about Soula Parassidis
Soula Parassidis first appeared on the international operatic scene in 2009 and has been busy ever since appearing in operas and concerts all over the world. Born to a Greek father and Irish mother, Parassidis grew up in Vancouver, Canada, and began her career as a flutist and actor before pursuing a voice career. She is known for her unique timber and glamorous stage presence.
A little about Norman Reinhardt
Norman Reinhardt is originally from Hickory, North Carolina. After graduating college, Reinhardt joined the Houston Grand Opera Studio and established himself as a lyrical tenor and bel canto singer. From 2009 to 2012, he was a member of the Lepzig Opera until he evolved into a freelance artist. As with his wife, Soula Parassidis, Reinhardt performs all over the world.