At the JASA, Upper West Side

JASA’s mission is to sustain and enrich the lives of seniors so they can remain in the community with dignity and autonomy.  Our concert for their lunch program brought back memories of my mother, who used to pay $1.00 for lunch at her senior center in Brooklyn.  She would get there early, before it sold out, to ensure her place at Table 2, with her friends. Before our performance today, there were JASAannouncements, one of which was that the current $2.00 suggested lunch donation was going up to 2.50 on May 1.  (The actual cost of the meal is $5.25.) [img responsive="true"][/img] We warmed up in a corner of the large third-floor dining room, joined by a woman who incorporated herself into the alto section (see attached photo).  Then we were on, accompanied by Rene on his various instruments and Marv on guitar—no piano at this concert.

There was a core of people who were attentive throughout, despite the backdrop of activity—people moving to different tables, talking to friends, going to the restroom.  They enjoyed participating, some by singing, others by clapping or swaying. As has been happening more often in our concerts, periodically someone whipped out a smartphone to capture us—especially during Siyahamba, our attention-getting opening, and when Rene played the flute for Cherokee Morning Song.

A memorable moment for me was watching the man in a wheel chair in the front row during Wanemo. Rene was conducting, his hands showing us how to shape the sound, and this man imitated everything he did, holding his hand high when Rene had us sustain a note, moving it down low when we were gradually fading out.

Special mention must be made of today’s tenor section, which numbered two.  Kudos to tenor Abe, who was singing his first community concert, and to baritone Larry, who morphed into a tenor for the day. Great work, guys.

Also very much in evidence was the special energy that we create when we engage with the audience, not only through our song introductions, but by moving among audience members.  This happened most notably in Down by the Riverside (shaking hands around the room), This Land is Your Land, and Rock-a-my Soul, which got the most applause—it was the song where 100% of us were integrated with the audience. This is what makes POHC so unique.