Fountain House is a community center in the West Forties dedicated to the recovery of men and women with mental illness. Run by members and staff, it provides employment, housing, education, and wellness programs. Members can also hang out in the elegant town-house to play chess, learn a craft, or eat. In the past we sang upstairs in the cafeteria, but tonight we were in the parlor on the ground floor, with couches, armchairs, a baby grand piano, and bottles of water put out for us on a table
After our usual warmups—vocalizing and trying out bits of songs to synchronize guitar, mandolin, and ukulele—one of the early-bird audience members called out, “You sound beautiful.” Then, in the few minutes before the start of the concert, some of us walked through the audience giving out pamphlets to people who asked about auditions and the fundraiser. There was an old-home-week kind feeling: one woman knew Lenore and Bill from her church; another woman knew Anthony from YAI; and a man asked whether I was Marv’s sister (it turns out he had once come to a POHC rehearsal).
We opened with “Siyhamba”—no surprise there—but this time it was “Siyhamba” with a twist. When we finished it, a woman in the back asked whether we ever tried to sing both languages at once. So Rene had half of us sing Zulu while the other half sung English, and it sounded pretty good. “You’re hired!” we told her.
They liked the whole concert and really did look at the singalong sheets, because when it came time for “This Little Light of Mine,” they said the same thing our last audience said: “It’s not on the sheet.” No matter, they sang it anyway.
After the concert, at Wilfred’s request, we posed for a group picture, taken the old fashioned way, by a photographer not in the picture (Anthony’s mom and his coach). Then another picture, this one a selfie by Brian—if a selfie can have 20 people in it. The audience watched the photo shoot, too. When it was over, as we were walking out, many told us how much they enjoyed the concert. “Come back,” one said, and another called, “God bless you all.”
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