It was an especially chilly mid-November afternoon but you would never know it as you walked into the Carter Burden Senior Center on Saturday afternoon. The seniors’ recreational room where we would perform was quite warm. As Dave noted, “I always forget how warm senior centers are.” I arrived and joined a nice-sized group of Peace of Heart Choir singers beginning Rene’s vocal warm-up. There were no fewer than 6 choir members attired in purple and Rene smiled and noted to Wilfred that we should get a purple picture as he was dressed in a purple shirt as well. The concert opened with a signature opening number of one of our core songs, a rousing Siyahamba followed by Wanemo. Next was the Maori ballad Pokarekare Ana with Brian and Dave providing fine musical support to Rene on lovely ukelele with a reverie-like feeling. The sing-along Down by the Riverside with spirited musical support from Brian and Dave followed with several of us running exuberantly into the audience to shake the hands of the seniors. We ran back to our places.
Barry did a sweet little impromptu surprise for the audience of It Had To Be You. Rene then introduced a fine new selection to this season’s repertoire, the Carole King classic, You’ve Got A Friend, a fitting piece for the spirit of outreach. Appreciative audience members visibly sang along to this one.
The next tune was a perfect follow-up, the James Taylor standard, That Lonesome Road, introduced by Rene with lovely vocal support from Nancy. Our outreach continued with another sing-along, Rock-a My-Soul. We started by singing each of the three choral parts to coach the audience. Then choir members ran into the audience and we split up into three sections to encourage audience members to sing along.
I noticed one audience member sitting in the back left hand side who seemed as if he might just want to rise from his seat as we sang but remain seated. We started our next song, Oye Come Va, introduced by Rob with fun, rollicking musical accompaniment by Dave and Brian. It was rousing and fun and I decided to start to dance to the music with the intention of getting the gentleman who seemed as if he wanted to dance to Rock-a My Soul on his feet and, of course, and any other audience member who wanted to dance.
I motivated one lady who was the first to get up and dance in front of the audience and finally, the gentlemen who I felt wanted to dance. You just couldn’t stop them. And it was such a delight to behold to see the seniors dancing—definitely a highlight. Next I introduced one of our core repertoire songs, the Jim Papoulis anthem for the future of our children, Give Us Hope. Our voices soared and filled the room. Ruth introduced our last song of the afternoon, one of our core repertoire pieces, Let There Be Peace on Earth. Again our voices filled the room.
After the concert, we did our usual audience feedback surveys. Ida came up to me and said that she loved us and we had to come back. As I walked out, a senior who had just seen the concert stopped me to say ‘thank you’ and held his heart. I then held my heart and said ‘thank you’ in return. He then leaned in closer and said, “ You rock-a my soul.” It was our first visit to Carter Burden Senior Center and the temperature wasn’t the only warm thing--it was the hearts and spirits of an appreciative group of seniors who look forward to our next visit.
-Carrie Wesolowski, Choir Singer
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