I approached the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, a community center attached to a New York City Housing Authority building for seniors, providing meals and recreation. This would mark Peace of Heart Choir’s first performance at Lenox Hill Community House. One of our altos, Eve, works for this organization, and had suggested this outreach venue. I walked in and spoke to the man at the front desk who directed me to the auditorium where we would be performing. I made my way into the auditorium--a good-sized room with a lovely stage—where I found Rene and other Peace of Heart Choir members on stage rehearsing before the outreach. Soon enough it was time for us to start.
About 30 or 40 audience members had gathered to hear us perform. Vivian introduced Peace of Heart Choir and our mission to the audience. We opened with the Pharrell Williams chart-topper, “Happy”, which was introduced by Pearl who had proposed the song. As an alto, I can truly appreciate the alto-driven “Happy” with a fun choral arrangement by Christie Baugher. It was truly a great way to open the outreach.
We continued with one of our core songs, the James Taylor standard, “That Lonesome Road” with an introduction by Tony and a touching a capella solo by Nancy. Our new sing-along Peace Like A River was next with an introduction by Rene. Deb introduced our very pretty inaugural performance of the Spanish love song, “Si La Nieve” which she had proposed. I introduced our next song, a crowd favorite and perhaps Cuba’s most well known song, “Guantanamera”. When I announced the song title, a woman with glasses in the front row grew excited, sitting forward in her seat--her face lighting up. We performed a rousing “Guantanamera” with lively, energetic musical support from Rene that put smiles on audience member’s faces. Rene introduced our next song, one of our sing-alongs, the upbeat “This Light Little of Mine”. Our next two songs both began with the letter ‘o’: “Ose Shalom” and “One Day” as Larry noted in his introduction. “Ose Shalom”, featured Amanda on clarinet providing a haunting feel to the choir’s vocals and Matisyahu’s anthem for peace, “One Day” followed with heartfelt solos by Gwyn and Wilfred. Next was the popular Korean folk song, “Arirang” with Gail providing light, whimsical musical accompaniment on flute.
Usually many of us go out into the audience to shake hands during the sing-along “Down by the Riverside” but as this was on a stage and there were side steps leading down into the audience, a smaller group of choir members answered the call and ventured into the audience “to shake hands around the world” as the lyrics state. Barry introduced the song “Seven Principles” highlighting each of the seven principles of the seven days of Kwanzaa. Our voices built to a nice ending in our second performance of this song so far this season. Rene broke the audience into three parts and guided the audience through the three respective choral parts of the sing-along “Rock-A-My-Soul” with several choir members going into the audience to coach them as they sang along. Our voices lifted in song for the Jim Papoulis plea for the future of our children, an a capella Give Us Hope introduced by Gail.
The outreach concluded with our signature closing, the anthem of our choir, “Let There Be Peace On Earth” which Nancy introduced. Quite lovely. At Rene’s direction, we took our bows to an appreciative audience.
We made our way off the stage and an audience member sitting in the front row introduced himself and exclaimed, “ I loved the music so much. It was great!”
His female companion nodded her head in agreement. Richard was so happy after hearing the music.
After the audience had cleared out of the auditorium, I interviewed Rebeka, Assistant Director of Arts and Education at Lenox Hill Neighborhood Community House. She provided an excellent testimonial to what our performance meant to the audience. She had received such positive feedback and, they, like Richard, had enjoyed our performance and had experienced the healing power of our music.
-Carrie, 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