Singing at Public Venues

Port Authority Rush Hour Commuters Transported by Our Rainbow of Music

Choir performs at Sing for Hope’s balcony performance space

by Carrie Wesolowski

[All photos by Frank Asencio]

Port Authority Bus Terminal during rush hour: scurrying commuters, patrolling National Guard soldiers, and on this Wednesday evening—the harmonious Peace of Heart Choir. Every Wednesday during rush hour on the Sing for Hope Performing Arts Stage just above the concourse level Au Bon Pain and wedged between steps and sets of escalators, the terminal is transformed by the sounds of music.

Located on a platform that was once the terminal’s operations control center, the glass-enclosed stage seems tucked away at the very center of Port Authority, almost an entity unto itself that majestically rises up from the street level with its official Sing for Hope logos on the front of the glass, Sing for Hope banners as the backdrop and of course, front and center, the artist-designed Sing for Hope rainbow piano jazzed up in marvelously whimsical swirls of color that would make Pucci proud. Our Peace of Heart Choir banner was featured too--at the far-right corner.    



We gathered in a semicircle around the piano with Renè at the helm. There was an “only in Port Authority irony” when as we sang “Save the Country”, the flashing LED sign on the opposite mezzanine read “God Bless America” followed by a flashing message heralding “Quick and Easy Hair Removal”. But that’s just the flavor of the ever-moving New York City—what makes it so unique, rich, and full-of-life. 

There was some blood—Renè cut his thumb playing—with Nancy quickly coming to the rescue with a Band-Aid, maybe a little sweat under the stage lights which produced some interesting optical illusions at times—a small group of baritones standing together looked as if they were part of Blue Man Group. There were no tears though, unless someone listening was choked up by one of our songs which has happened before.

Maestro Renè Galvan conducts the choir at New York’s Port Authority


There was a lot of joy as all of us sang, sharing our music with the audience. We were clapping enthusiastically and dancing during sing-alongs such as "Peace Like a River" and "This Little Light of Mine”. Some of us waved to commuters below as a greeting and an invitation to stay and watch the music which some of them did. Perhaps for one song, perhaps two, before moving along again. Lis had her own fan club--friends from Texas who had come to see her sing her solo in the Billy Joel classic “River of Dreams”.

She smiled enthusiastically, exclaiming how beautiful we sounded, how much she loved our music...


In a place like the Port Authority, it’s hard to tell whether people are listening, and with most of them passing through on their way home during rush hour, one may never know. However, later walking through the terminal, a Port Authority cleaning lady approached me to let me know that she had seen all of us sing earlier. She smiled enthusiastically, exclaiming how beautiful we sounded, how much she loved our music, how she had loved seeing us sing here two years ago, and how glad she was to see us again. She had remembered us, remembered our music and made sure she saw us when we came back. After a mutual expression of gratitude and a hug, we were back on our way. I walked back into the anonymity of Port Authority with a smile on my face.

Ah, the power of music… Helping to make your time spent at Port Authority sound a whole lot better….

In Harmony,
Carrie Wesolowski, Alto 1

 

For more information on the non-profit Sing for Hope; visit their website at www.singforhope.org

A Look Back at the Fall/Winter 2018 Season

Here is a recap of
recent outreach performances
from September 2018-January 2019

by Carrie Wesolowski

[All photos by Frank Asencio]

Choir members as they watch clients dance during a performance at YAI in November, 2018.

Choir members as they watch clients dance during a performance at YAI in November, 2018.

"You have travelled to 50 places together,” Facebook recently declared of me and another Peace of Heart Choir member. I later thought to myself that It was considerably more than that.  We may not have logged frequent flyer miles but we have passed the litmus test of all good travel experiences—meeting new people and reaping the rewards that come with human interaction—the experiences that enrich our lives and change us for the better.  We have travelled to spots around the New York City area—averaging around 24 venues each season-- as part of our very special group, Peace of Heart Choir, singing to those who need the music. Our music. Music we select each season. It’s important to look at where we’ve been to know where we’re going. Eleven outreaches this past season together creating new memories while doing what we all love to do—sharing the universal language of music with our audiences. Here's a brief glimpse of our travels.

 

The choir performs “Lift Us Up” on The High Line.

9/12/18 The High Line:  Rain couldn't dampen our spirits as we took refuge in a covered area under the Chelsea Market Passage on the High Line, performing our first outreach of the Fall 2018 season in remembrance of 9/11, to a very enthusiastic audience including a familiar face in the audience, former Peace of Heart Choir soprano Naomi Frerotte. We performed on 9/12 with a foggy NYC skyline as our backdrop. We sang in remembrance of the 9/11 attacks, but we also sang in the spirit of moving forward together that 9/12 has come to symbolize. During the performance, the smiles appeared, and the rain disappeared. One audience member came up to me afterwards to ask me more about our group and tell me how much she loved the music.

 

10/21/18 Mt. Sinai/St. Luke’s: We sang on a locked ward of Mt.Sinai/St.Luke’s to an audience of patients who were battling mental illness and/or drug addiction. At first, it seemed that the staff didn’t expect us, and they were surprised that we were there to sing. Several patients came alive singing along with us--one patient thanked us with a gentle fist bump as we left and said that we had to come back. As for the staff who didn’t know we were coming, it was a pleasant surprise to them as they smiled and grooved to the music and seconded our male audience member’s call for a return visit.  

 

Choir director René Galván, on guitar, leads the choir in “Oye Como Va” at YAI.

Choir director René Galván, on guitar, leads the choir in “Oye Como Va” at YAI.

11/2/18 YAI:  It is always such a great experience singing here—YAI is truly the unofficial Peace of Heart Choir fan club. We have a very special relationship with YAI as they brought us our baritone Anthony. We’ve visited them regularly for many years, and they also staff the snack table at our benefit concerts. They are always so happy to see us and we were so happy to be there and sing for them. This wonderful organization supports people of all ages with developmental disabilities in achieving the fullest life possible by creating new opportunities for them. For those of us who have been here before, we recognized many of our audience members. We visited with our old friends and caught up on special events in their lives including their latest baby photos. At the end, Renè led us in an impromptu “Oye Como Va” that electrified our audience and had them dancing along. 

 

11/14/18 Visions at Selis Manor:  This organization for the blind provides an adapted learning environment and meeting place for youth, adults and seniors which offers support groups, computer training, adapted activities, volunteer and social work services. We have sung here several times before. This time we sang at a weekday lunch program. Our audience was appreciative and many were visibly moved. One woman told us about the choir that she had belonged to in her youth. One man, his voice choked up with emotion, took my hand and thanked us for the music and told me that we sounded beautiful.

 

11/17/18 Village Care:  This is an assisted living facility in Midtown West that provides post-acute care, managed long-term care and community-based services for seniors. We performed during lunch, and our audience was visibly affected by our music—one woman tearing up at one point. We got a chance to speak to the residents afterwards. One man seated in an armchair outside was particularly nostalgic when talking about our concert, how the music brought him back to another time. He recounted stories of the past. It was lovely how the music meant something so personal to him. 

 

12/5/18 Mercy Home: We have a special relationship with this venue, a network of group homes for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. The former church where we performed is used as a community center, a place the residents come for recreation and enrichment programs. We have performed here several times before and our soprano Michael Anne used to work here. It is always such a pleasure to sing in their small chapel with its wonderful acoustics and to see our audience members’ smiles and this time was no exception. As we entered, they gave each of us colorful shapes cut out of construction paper for a chance to win sweatshirts with artwork by the residents. They always have a special musical treat for us too—their very own musical group Melodic Soul performed for us, and for a short time we shifted from performers to audience. But this time they had an added treat for us—as they dimmed the lights, the unveiling of an art project amidst the setting of the cavernous chapel. The light show felt almost psychedelic in nature and there was a certain magic with the lights ascending and descending the artwork in the dark until the lights connected from side to side and “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” was revealed in its entirety.

 

The choir at JCC, the Jewish Community Center.

The choir at JCC, the Jewish Community Center.

12/8/18 JCC: We performed in the lobby of the JCC on the Upper West Side, as part of their Shabbat R&R program. The JCC has been a good friend to us over the years. Observing the rules of the Jewish Sabbath, we performed a cappella, without instruments or even a pitch pipe to find our starting notes. Children and their families took in our music engaging in some lively chatter in the background. We gave out Peace of Heart Choir key chains after the performance to a very appreciative audience who thanked us for our music. 

 

12/20/18 Hope Lodge: Amidst the backdrop of a beautiful Christmas tree adorned with New York City-themed ornaments, we sang at a holiday meal for cancer patients and their families who stay at Hope Lodge for days, weeks, or sometimes months while they are in town for treatment at area hospitals. The group sang along with us on sing-alongs, including a young girl singing along to “You Are My Sunshine”. At the end of the concert, a woman in a wheelchair getting off the elevator asked if she had missed the concert. A small POHC group who had been waiting at the elevator that would soon grow a bit larger began to sing an impromptu version of “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” our official theme song. The woman began to sing along and thanked the group as everyone parted wishing each other “Happy Holidays”. There was a tear in many an eye after she parted ways. 

 

12/22 Housing Works: A New York City-based non-profit providing services to those fighting AIDS, drug use, and homelessness, we’ve sung at other Housing Works venues before but this was the first time we ventured to this downtown Brooklyn location. We sang in the basement where the walls were covered with holiday decorations. We performed for a very small but appreciative group that had gathered for lunch. One woman was especially enthusiastic-- not only did she sing along with us but she hugged several of us afterwards. 

 

1/9 Edie Windsor SAGE Center:  Our tenor, Wilfred, has noted that he is no stranger to SAGE as he has attended SAGE socials before. This was our second time performing here but this was my first time that I noticed the picture behind the reception desk as I got off the elevator—a picture of an elderly woman with both arms thrown up in the air triumphantly with a beaming smile across her face and the words SAGE/Advocacy & Services for LGBT Elders with the tagline underneath: We refuse to be invisible. And that is exactly what I saw as we sang for our audience—vibrant, involved individuals who expressed their love for our music—a man in the second row who visibly sang along appreciatively to “Singing for our Lives”. A woman in our audience sang along with me all the lyrics to “You Are My Sunshine”. You could really feel the connection we had made with this audience.

 

1/17 National Council of Jewish Women: We have sung for the lunchtime meetings of this group several times before, and one member here, Norma, has even become our unofficial booking agent, calling us regularly with ideas and performance opportunities. This year we participated in a program which promotes healthy aging, Council Lifetime Learning’s 2018-2019 Gerson Cultural Arts Season through our music. Norma gave us a warm introduction as usual. Gary told our audience a bit about our mission and who we are. We sang for an audience of seniors and several caregivers. The Heartbeats (an unofficial girl group created by choir members for our semi-annual cabaret nights) even reprised an arrangement of favorite, “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen”. Gary encouraged our audience by saying that the only thing we like better than singing is our audience singing along with us. As Gary estimated percentages of our audience singing along, I later joked we should coin the term “Garyometer” for this purpose. Again, we gave out Peace of Heart Choir key chains at the end of our performance and received positive feedback from our audience. This performance wrapped up a wonderful outreach season!

 

We look forward to another season of travels--not far in terms of distance--but reaching those who most need it, living alongside us.

 

Come join us for our upcoming public performances:  first up on March 13 at 5PM--Sing for Hope at Port Authority 625 8th Ave (bet 40 & 41 St), our Benefit Concert Performance on June 2 at 4PM--Alvin Ailey Center, 405 W 55th St (9th Ave), and Make Music New York on June 21 at a time/location TBD.

 

Ah, the power of music and the reciprocity of goodwill that keeps our heart beating and reawakens our soul in the affirmation that everything is gonna be alright.

 

Looking Forward to Another Harmonious Outreach Season, 
Carrie Wesolowski
Alto 1 

Each year, on or near the anniversary of the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center, the choir performs a public concert. On September 12, 2018 we performed on the High Line in New York City.

Each year, on or near the anniversary of the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center, the choir performs a public concert. On September 12, 2018 we performed on the High Line in New York City.

Honoring Rescue and Recovery Workers at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum

On May 30, 2017, The National September 11 Memorial & Museum recognized the 15th anniversary of the end of the historic rescue, recovery and relief efforts at Ground Zero.  As part of the ceremonies, the Peace of Heart Choir, as in previous years, performed on a balcony/overhang overlooking the hall where the ceremonies were held.

The choir's performance this year began with the Star Spangled Banner, as a Color Guard presented the nation's flag, and, it continued during a portion of the ceremony where those in attendance were invited to tie blue ribbons at the base of the last standing column of the World Trade Center to pay tribute to all those who sacrificed so much and to those who continue to suffer health-wise because of their heroic efforts. 

Immediately above is video of the ceremony, courtesy of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.  In the background, the choir can be heard singing the following songs at the following time signatures:

02:07 — Star Spangled Banner
14:27 — Bright Morning Star
17:50 — One Day
21:03 — That Lonesome Road
23:53 — Paz y Libertad (partial song)

Fore more info on the National September 11th Memorial & Museum please visit:  https://www.911memorial.org/

At The MetLife Building

I walked through Grand Central Terminal and spotted the long escalator on the main floor that would take me up to the MetLife Building. I took the escalator up and looked for my fellow choir members. I walked a bit and I saw a stage with risers and a piano. In the front of the stage was a Peace of Heart Choir banner with our logo heralding our public concert later that evening.  As I looked around for our rehearsal room, a security guard complimented my festive brightly colored clothing and asked if I was with the choir and directed me down the hallway. I saw a room at the end—a glass door bearing the familiar Peace of Heart Choir sign with our logo.

I walked in to the rehearsal room. There were refreshments including Cucina and Co. hot chocolate and I found Rene discussing which songs we would do. We ran through bits of each and then it was time to take the stage. We lined up and made our way onto the risers. There were about 50 chairs set up for the audience. To our left, was a Godiva shop, to our right a Cucina & Co. shop.  Our backdrop was a Swarovski store. You could find even more sparkle in the center of the lobby behind the audience with a majestic Christmas tree perhaps 15 feet tall with dazzling ornaments of red and green and silver and gold.

Our host, Judith Kaplan, thanked us for coming to perform and it was clear how important this MetLife Building holiday music program was to her. Her husband, Bernard, who had a great love for music and for the holiday season, had started the program and when he passed away, she decided to continue the program in his loving memory. For nearly 40 years, Bernard Kaplan was the inspiration and organizing force behind the choral program, the toy drive and many other initiatives at the building.  She spoke at length about this and how grateful she was to have us here today for our public concert as part of the MetLife Building Bernard Kaplan Memorial Holiday Concert Series.

Gary introduced the choir and it was time for the music to start.  Barry introduced our first song highlighting each of the principles of the seven days of Kwanzaa, “Seven Principles”, with nice vocal support from Gail. The MetLife Building lobby is a very busy corridor with the hustle and bustle of people leaving work and rushing to catch their train in Grand Central, others perhaps going back to work after a break trying to tie up some loose ends before the end of the workday.  As soon as we took the stage, passersby looked at us. It was obvious that to many the music was a much-needed respite from a busy workday.  Many people smiled as they passed by. One woman smiled at me and I smiled back and we waved at each other. Some people stopped for a while and sat down to catch some of the music before they moved along. Some passersby took video on their cell phones--one woman recording several songs with her cell phone.  From a distance, I could see her cell phone cover with the shiny star in the center catching the light. While others on the mezzanine level, stopped to watch the performance below.

We were off to a great start. We continued with the Spanish love song, “Si La Nieve” with an introduction by Deb who had proposed the song.  We sounded quite lovely and the audience started to grow a bit.  I introduced the #1 hit single by Pharrell, the alto-driven, “Happy” and as I said in my introduction, “It makes us happy to sing it and I hope it makes you happy to hear it too.” It was exuberant and fun and obviously recognizable to many audience members and others passing through and brought smiles to many faces.

The traditional Hebrew holiday song, “Al Hanissim” sounded lovely with Amanda on clarinet and Marv on accordion.  We did two sing-alongs,  “Peace Like A River” and “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore” with Andrea and Rene providing musical accompaniment and lending itself to the energy and the exuberance of the pieces. The Korean love song, “Arirang” was lyrical and pretty with lovely musical support from Gail and Marv, both on flutes.

We did a wonderfully jazzy and lively choral rendition of the holiday classic, “Deck the Halls” with several passersby singing along and smiling.  We performed several core songs from our repertoire. “That Lonesome Road” featured a sublime solo by Nancy.  Gary introduced the Matisyahu call for peace, “One Day”, highlighted by lovely solos from Gwyn and Gary.  The song really resonated with the audience as many passersby stopped to listen and watch.   And of course, we performed the unofficial anthem of Cuba—always a crowd favorite—“Guantanamera”--with a wonderful introduction and musical accompaniment by Rene.

Vivian introduced the signature closing of our choir, “Let There Be Peace On Earth” and explained the significance of the song in our times and how vital that peace begin with each of us.  The song sounded great with a pretty solo from Deb.  Rene directed us to take our bows. Our host, Judith Kaplan, effusively thanked us for performing and asked the audience if they would love to have Peace of Heart Choir back to which there was resounding applause—an affirmation of a lively and fun public concert where for a short time The MetLife Building was transformed by the energy of Peace of Heart Choir and the healing power of music that transported passersby to another plane devoid of the troubles of an average workday.

-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

At The Lincoln Center

We’ve sung in public venues before, usually in places like the High Line, where people happen upon us as they stroll by. Today, the audience came specifically to hear us. In Lincoln Center. In an auditorium named for Bruno Walter. We all felt the awe of that. Backstage hummed, with Rob giving out POHC mugs, shirts, and totes, and Evelyn, our deportment guru, lining us up so we could practice walking onstage in formation, closed books in our left hands. The warm-up was long, more like a dress rehearsal, where, for the first time, we got to work on the transition between Mood Indigo and Satin Doll. Like cramming in the moments before a final exam. Amazingly, it worked.

At The Jewish Community Center

I walked up to the entrance of the Jewish Community Center and found Alex waiting outside. We walked inside to see where we were warming up. I saw the various activities going on as part of the day. I walked up to two women and realized one of them was Gia, who had helped set up our concert. I complimented her on her shiny silver headband and then I took off my hat to reveal my shiny gold one. “It’s obviously ‘Shiny Headband Day’,” she said in solidarity with a smile on her face. Alex and I then went down to the lower level and met Noella and several other choir members along the way. The room where we would rehearse had obviously changed. Back up one flight again. We rehearsed a bit with a little lift from Lily’s delicious homemade sweet potato latkes and then it was time to begin. We were not allowed any musical accompaniment or even a pitch pipe for this performance in respect for the Holidays. In the JCC setting, we definitely included Chiribim as part of our program and included Od Yavo. The day was filled with family activities including face painting and this was obvious from the families and children in attendance.

Our performance began with our signature opening number, Siyahamba. Gail and Lily provided lovely vocal support in our song of welcome, Wanemo. Od Yavo was fun and spirited as we sped up and slowed down at various points and built up momentum towards the end under Rene’s direction. Next was the Gaelic song, Geantri. One of our core repertoire songs, Michael Row the Boat Ashore followed. During this song, an adorable toddler in a navy blue and yellow shirt and overalls kept trying to grab the words we had handed out from his mother’s hand as she was trying to sing the words from the sheet. She eventually walked out with her toddler--guess he wanted to sing too. The Yiddish song, Chiribim, was next with spirited vocals and introduction by Lily. A lovely acapella version of Light One Candle followed. Next was the sing-along Down by the Riverside. Kwanzaa Song was on the original program but as we realized that it was a holiday song, it was excluded from this concert. The sing-along Rock-A-My-Soul was next followed by a lovely acapella Give Us Hope and the Peace of Heart Choir anthem, a lovely Let There Be Peace on Earth.

It was nice to look out into the audience and see several familiar faces from last year’s outreach at the JCC. After the concert, a lady thanked us for an enjoyable concert. I saw a happy child with brightly colored paint decorating their face who had just participated in the face painting activity. It was so nice to have again been part of this annual event.

-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

At the International Vigil for Peace

 On Saturday, September 21 about 20 members of the choir sang at the International Vigil for Peace Concert in Central Park.  It was a lovely, windy afternoon, lots of people were hanging out or walking by and pausing to listen, with some sitting in the several rows of chairs in front of the Bandshell.  The flags of many countries flapped in the breezes.  It was a beautiful, sunny Fall day.

The choir slowly gathered a little after 1:00pm , and around 1:30pm we warmed up, well away from the stage.  Several members of the Streetsingers (Cheryl's group) joined us, and while we began with just two altos, by the time we were on stage we had two more.

We started singing right on schedule, at 2 PM and opened with a rousing rendition of Siyahamba which quickly caught the audience's attention.  We then sang Peace Salaam Shalom, Aquarius, Imagine and Give Us Hope - with Rene's music at times flapping in the strong breezes. The audience loved the songs.   It was a wonderful concert, full of good energy and the celebration of values that matter to both our choir and the audience: peace, harmony, oneness in the world.

After we left the stage we decided to give an impromptu concert over near the Bethesda Fountain - only to find a major chess tournament going on there and every available space filled with card tables covered with chess sets!  We walked on towards the Boathouse Restaurant and stopped on the path and set up to sing between the path and a huge willow tree by the lake.  It was a beautiful setting with many people walking by.  We sang the same repertoire again while one choir member's children passed out our Peace of Heart flyers.  We ended the day with lots of photo ops by the lake - the most popular of which was posing with Angela in her "Miss Plus America" banner and tiara!!

What a wonderful way to spend a Fall afternoon!

- Peace of Heart Choir SingerIt 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. 

At Insomnia Cookies !

After performing our 9/11 commemoration concert at Central Park, some of us took the #1 train up to Insomnia Cookies on 110thStreet. We were to get a percentage of the day's profits, so we encouraged everyone in the street to buy cookies. There were only ten or eleven of us, but we held our own singing on the darkening sidewalk outside the cookie store. During a reprise of “Aquarius,” a passer-by, inspired by Gary’s singing in tongues, let her soul out through dancing. “Faster!” she kept saying to the choir as she twirled.  “Faster!” Then she danced over to Rene and said “Faster!” to him.  When we didn’t change tempo, she danced off down the sidewalk and was gone. When we finished singing, Anthony’s mom passed around a box of Insomnia Cookies that she had just bought. Thanks, Jeanette!

Tomorrow’s rehearsal may be the official beginning of the season, but in facet we have already begun.

- Peace of Heart 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. 

At Central Park 9/11 Commemoration

We gathered around Rene’s piano in Central Park for our first warmup of the season.  It was hot and steamy, but we singers were in high spirits, glad to be together again after the summer break.  Passers-by video’d our vocalizing and song snippets.  They were delighted when we told them that was just the rehearsal – the concert was still to come and would be a few yards away, at the base of the statue. Rene was delighted, too – to find that even though we hadn’t had our first rehearsal yet, we sounded good. Kudos to all of us.

We began the concert proper with a rousing rendition of “Siyahamba.” Then came the rest of our core songs, including sing-alongs, and also the non-core “Aquarius,” in which Gary let his soul pour forth.  The crowd loved it. The wind came up, the way it does sometimes before a thunder storm, but we were lucky – no rain – just Rene’s music blowin’ in the wind. There were several POHC fans standing in a semi-circle in front of us--former choir members; new choir members; spouses, parents, and friends of choir members; an admirer from YAI.  They were giving out Insomnia Cookie coupons to passers-by, in preparation for our next gig of the evening. Behind them, leaning on bikes or on trees, were the unaffiliated, strangers who just got pleasure out of listening to us.

- Peace of Heart 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. 

At Make Music NY, Hell's Kitchen Park!

Hell's Kitchen Park is not big by New York City standards--the long side of the rectangle runs from 47th-48th Streets--but it's home to a handball court, a children's area with an on-the-ground treehouse under an actual tree, and a main area that has benches lining the fence and an open concrete space good for skateboarding, walking with baby strollers, or as a stage for Make Music New York performers.

We straggled in by ones and twos and sat on whichever benches had room, a few of us here, a few there, listening to the man who was two acts before us play his guitar and sing.  I am not a big fan of amplified music that makes it hard to have a conversation with the person next to you, but the other bench-sitters and people standing around seemed OK with it.

The good thing about loud noise is that it creates privacy.  All we had to do was walk a few yards to the treehouse area and we were able to warm up without interfering with the performer. It's worth noting, just so you get an idea of his amplification, that our warmup included a full-volume rendition of Siyahamba.  It's also worth noting that our warmup was sans piano.  Rene had left his keyboard under the watchful eye of his daughter, Gina, who was sitting on the benches in front of the "stage."

After the warmups, there was still another act before us, so we used the time to take photos for the Facebook page. The treehouse was an ideal prop--some of us climbed the stairs and looked out from the landing, others gathered below on the ground.

Our turn. It took some time to get Rene's piano hooked up to the PA system.  Then Gary introduced us, and we were off with Siyahamba for real. As it always does, the song made everyone sit up and pay attention.

We followed with a succession of crowd-pleasers--59th Street Bridge, Imagine, Aquarius.  The audience shouted their approval after each song.  With Imagine, they even applauded after the first few measures, as soon as they realized what song it was.  People walking on 10th Avenue stopped, looked through the fence, then stayed.  The choir that was waiting to go on after us was off to the side, swaying and clapping to our singing.  Little children were dancing around, two of whom, I found out from Gina after the concert, were her cousins visiting from Texas--Rene's brother's children.

After 30 minutes, which we thought was our allotted time, the in-charge man said we had another fifteen minutes, so we threw in in Peace, Salaam, Shalom, The Lion Sleeps Tonight (kudos to Alex!), This Land is Your Land, and Give Us Hope.

The choir who followed us was pretty cool, too.  Their dress code was red and black--striking.  We sang one number with them--the one we rehearsed with Rene--and some of us stayed to hear their other pieces.  They did them all from memory and had a lot of enthusiasm.

The energy exchange tonight was palpable.  The audience was loving us, and were loving them back.  We truly did Make Music New York.