On the Saturday after superstorm Sandy disrupted the East Coast, Manhattan Jewish Community Center hosted POHC for a concert as part of their Saturday R&R program. The JCC lobby was packed near capacity. Mothers and fathers sitting on chairs, bouncing their knees up and down in time to our singing because their hands weren’t free to clap—they were holding on to the children on their laps. More adults were standing behind and in between them. In the back, other people were sorting donations of clothing and assorted items for people severely affected by the storm.
On the side, still other people were clustered around the snack and beverage table. The place was humming with the noise of a crowded restaurant where you have to shout to talk to your table-mates. Into this din marched the SATB members of the POHC. We took our places and waited for some quiet so René could introduce the Choir.
When the quiet didn’t come, we decided to just sing. Our opening number, Siyahamba, couldn’t have been better-chosen. Now we had their attention! I can’t say that they were totally quiet for the rest of the concert. I can say that all of them in the front were paying attention, especially the wide-eyed children. So were most of them in the back. And when we got to Od Yavo, I saw some of the people sorting items on the donation table singing with us while they worked. (At one point, in the middle of a song, a man came up and whispered something in René’s ear. When the song finished, René faced the audience and said, “I’m told to announce that three more teenagers are needed in the sorting area.”)
This was sabbath at the JCC, where peace is supposed to reign and no work is to be done. No work means no appliances, which means René was not allowed to play his piano, which means our entire concert was a capella (unless you count René’s pitch pipe). For the Choir—at least for me—this was an unexpected treat. René was 100% conductor, his gestures and facial expressions letting us know exactly how to shape the sound. And we did give forth a really fine sound, the controlled chaos around us notwithstanding. Contrast today with our concerts at the hospice, where we go into a patient’s room, gather around his or her bed, and sing to one person. Each is satisfying in a different way.
-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.