I arrived late (because of work) to find a few residents seated around tables listening to the choir singing "That Lonesome Road." The sound was so good I thought it was the concert and realized it was the warm-up only when Rene stopped before the end of the song.
One of the recreation workers came around to the tables with a beverage cart that had wine as well as soft drinks. She put out plates of chips, too, cabaret-style. Then it was time to begin.
"Siyahamba," always a rousing opening, drew enthusiastic applause. We followed that with a mix of old and new pieces. I enjoyed seeing members of the audience singing along to songs other than the official sing-alongs, in particular, "You've Got a Friend."
Residents and a few of their visitors kept coming in, and before long, all the tables were full. Anthony's mom, Jeanette, was also in the audience, along with her sister, who lives in Indonesia and hasn't been to New York in 23 years. Anthony's mom sang and bopped along with several songs, like the honorary choir member she is.
Marv and Dave provided excellent accompaniment, freeing Rene to do what he does so well--conduct and help us sing with more nuance, and also get the "s" and "t" sounds on the right beat.
For me, the highlight of the evening was "Rock-a-My Soul," when Rene divided the audience into three groups and the choir broke formation to stand among them. I was with the residents of Group-3. Some sang with more gusto than others, but they were all obviously enjoying themselves. One woman was a bit tentative, but I could tell she really wanted to do this. We locked eyes, and the longer we held the connection, the more she sang with more confidence.
On the way out, I talked to a woman who said, "Encore, encore." I told her she should have shouted it sooner, before we had our coats on. She said, "I did, but no one heard me." This wasn't the official opening of our fall season. We already sang two concerts with the Fusion ensemble and one by ourselves at the 9/11 memorial. It felt like the opening, though, the first concert where we connected to the audience in an intimate setting. We didn't sing "Furaha!" tonight, but we definitely sang joy.
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