At St Luke's Psychiatric Unit

On Friday, Peace of Heart congregated in an alcove of the lobby at Roosevelt Hospital on the West Side of Manhattan. After the whole group arrived, we headed to the Volunteer Services office, where we warmed up before going to the Inpatient Psychiatric Unit to perform. With the help of the staff, we moved the very interesting piano (painted all over with flowers and supported by two paperback books, one under each front leg) to where we wanted it.  Then Rene tested it by playing various classical snippets, to the amusement of the patients who were there early and watched the set-up procedure.  The staff arranged chairs in rows, we arranged ourselves behind the piano, and the rest of the patients came in. We opened with Peace, Salaam, Shalom and followed with Higher and Higher, after which a woman called out, “Didn’t Jackie Wilson sing that?” (yes!), and so a dialogue was started between the audience and the Choir that went beyond our introductions, all of which they listened to with interest.

We did the first sing-along early on—This Land Is Your Land—and everyone participated, either by singing or clapping.  When it was over, someone shouted, “Yay, Woody!”

René’s bamboo flute introduction to the Cherokee Morning Song has been a hit with all our audiences so far, and this one was no exception. When we finished the piece, one of the patients asked what the words of the song meant.  Rene told him: “I am of the great spirit.” (Another version of the translation is thought to mean "our hearts and spirits are strong.")  The patient said that the main lyrics, “We n’ de ya ho,” sounded like “When they are whole.”  He seemed pleased when we told him that was a wonderful observation.

Guantanamera was another hit, with clapping and singing not only by the patients, but by the staff who were standing in the doorway. And when we finished the fade-out ending of Vela, someone said, “That’s gorgeous!” After, we closed with Let There Be Peace, we did the second sing-along, Down By the Riverside, and when that was over, we got a standing ovation from the patients!

They were a wonderful audience, each listening in his or her own way, and we all came away feeling good about having sung there.

- Peace of Heart Alto It has become a tradition for a member of POHC to do a post-concert write-up. It started when our Sign-up Coordinator began emailing her summaries to the other members in order to entice newer members to sign-up to sing at community concerts held early in the season. It didn't take long for Concert Write-ups to become greatly anticipated amongst our members, so we share them here in hopes that you'll join us at a future concert.