On a beautiful fall Sunday, the Peace of Heart Choir visited St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital in Morningside Heights, near Columbia University. The lone staff member eating lunch in the first floor cafeteria said she didn’t mind our warming up within feet of her table, so we made ourselves at home. Then we went upstairs to the day-room of the psychiatric unit.
As always, our pre-concert arrangements interested the audience—the re-arranging of chairs, the moving of the piano, René’s tickling the keys and pronouncing it a "fine specimen." Then René introduced the choir, and Gary introduced the South African hymn, Siyahamba, inviting the audience to determine whether this was in Zulu or Africaans.
René started his drumbeat, and we were off. No one weighed in on the language question at the end of the song, but they were obviously engaged. Starting with the next song, John Lennon's Imagine, we invited them to sing along with any of our numbers. No one did, except for the actual sing-alongs, Down by the Riverside and This Land is Your Land. But many clapped along or swayed, and all seemed interested in the introductions.
A few patients walked in and out during our performance, but there was a core who stayed for all eight songs. And though we were a bit sparse on some parts, POHC is nothing if not adaptable. A soprano joined the altos, a first soprano sang second, and, for our Spanish song, Nanita, René sang with the basses. At the end of the concert, we mingled with the audience, all of whom thanked us for coming and said they enjoyed it.
One of the nurses told me she like the a capella songs best, because there was more of a connection with the audience. She also said she loved the songs with the drums. Another staff member asked us to come back for Thanksgiving and Christmas; our Steering Committee Co-Chair, and tenor, Gary talked to her about scheduling for next year.
Before we went our separate ways, we gathered in the street under the St. Luke’s sign, and on of our newer sopranos, Noella, posed us with our black folders in our left hands and took our picture for the website. Post-performance smiles at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital.
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.