Outreach

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 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. Naomi 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.

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.

At Rivington House

Saturday afternoon, June 15th a smaller group of choir members gathered at Rivington House, a home for AIDS patients, where we sang in the penthouse, a very nice venue.  Here our audience was smaller, but the concert was just as beautiful.

The three sopranos held their own wonderfully and the audience thoroughly enjoyed the songs and joined us in the sing-alongs.  We did rousing renditions of New York/ New York, Feeling Groovy, Aquarius, Siyahamba, and  Stand by Me, along with a gentler Die Gedanken and the addition of Tumbalalaika.  We ended with Give Me Hope and Let There be Peace on Earth to much appreciation from the audience.  We could all feel what a lovely gift music is for folks who are struggling.

- Peace of Heart SopranoIt 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 American Cancer Society

On Tuesday, June 11th, we sang at the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge, a residence for out-of-town families of cancer patients, where we sang in a lovely open room that has a wall of windows and a good piano.  With a large choir turnout we were able to share our songs with passion and vigor and the audience was deeply responsive.

Our audience started small, but grew as we sang, and in the end there were at least a dozen people.  Many sang with us during the sing-alongs, and they clearly knew many of our other songs. There was a very strong connection with them as we sang and we could feel them drinking up our words of hope and encouragement and reminders of joy--even though this time in their lives is particularly stressful.

After the concert they were very appreciative and some stayed around for a while to talk to the choir members.

- Peace of Heart Soprano

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 YAI for Friday Night Fun!

We lined up in the hall while Peace of Heart Choir Tenor, Anthony went in to introduce the Choir. Applause. Then, from inside, René gave pitches for “Siyahamba,” but they reached the hall only faintly. So POHC member Angela took up the call, singing the soprano part loud and clear while she walked down the line. We picked out our own pitches and took up the song as we marched in. By the time we were all assembled in rows, we were singing full-strength, Zulu, English, Zulu, English, with René on the drum. There was rhythm in the room and joy on the faces of our young audience at YAI.Then came the rest of the songs, starting with Imagine.

The audience sang along sometimes, listened quietly other times. One young man recorded each song on his cell phone, somehow managing to hold the phone still in his hand while the rest of his body gyrated to the music—an isolate-that-muscle feat worthy of a subway entertainer. We always encourage our audiences to participate, but this time, I liked that the audience did not clap along to This Land is Your Land. Instead, they were holding the song sheets, reading and singing. Clapping might have distracted them and it was nice to join voices.

During that song, one girl in the front row pointed to us and herself every time we came to the line “This land belongs to YOU and ME.” They did clap along during Down by the Riverside, though, and they liked shaking hands with the choir members who walked through the audience during the verse that says “Gonna shake hands around the world.” We know this audience. We’ve sung for them many times, yet our connection with them always feels fresh.

They’re good listeners, good participators, and they enjoy the introductions as much as the music. They pick up the mood of the songs and reflect them back. During Bright Morning Star, one young lady who likes to speak and share comments during the performance, was quiet during the first part. For a moment, she thought the song was over and started to say something, but when she saw that it was continuing, she was quiet again. Our music hath charms to soothe...

It was nice to have our former director, Abby, in the audience. Also nice to see the man in a pin-striped shirt and tie in the back row. I have no idea who he was, but I enjoyed watching his face. He listened intently the whole time, but during the last song, Give Us Hope, he looked as if a spark had lit up his insides. And the German song, Die Gedanken, introduced by POHC Alto Susannah, was special for me after she had previously shared some thoughts about her daughter. What better place for our first concert of the season than YAI, where we’re always welcomed with exuberance. (That’s an understatement.)

- Peace of Heart Alto

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 Schervier Nursing Home

After I got off on at Bedford Park Blvd on the #4 train I was approached by Lexi (a new alto in the choir), and we've been waiting about 20 minutes for the #10 bus going to Henry Hudson Pkwy. It was a really long ride and we have to go pass more than about 7 stops. We were confused about which way to the nursing home after we got off at the right stop, but then we asked a nice friendly helpful guy where the Shervier Nursing Home is and gave us the right directions, and off we went.

Once we arrived we ask the security in the front desk if this was the right building where we were suppose to perform. It was and he gave a short direction to where the performance is, which is at the auditorium in the basement.

Before we arrived there Lexi and I already heard wonderful voices coming from the members who already arrived and Nancy (soprano 2) and Robert (bass) told us where to put our bags and coats. The microphone was quite powerful that they don't have to step into the mic to speak. We can hear them loud and clear. Lexi and I were about 15 min late, but it doesn't matter. There are some songs the choir hasn't done yet that we need to rehearse. Already in the mood, a male audience member in the wheelchair loved our voices and started dancing and acted as a conductor. It felt great watching him do so.

Larry began introducing the choir as he introduced "Siyahamba" afterwards. Not really a sing-a-long as it suppose to be and there was no space to walk on stage but the audience loved it anyways. The next song we sung was "Imagine" in which Alex introduced. Brian did the intro for "This Land is Your Land" and he also help us out by telling the audience to sing along, in which they all did! Next, we sang "Aquarius..." in which Deb introduced, then we did "Peace Salaam Shalom". Barbara did the intro for that. We also sang "Die Gedanken Sind Frei (pronounced Dee Guh-don-ken Sind Fry) introduced by Howard.Then Noella introduced "Love Train/Put a Little Love in Your Heart" and we sound great, in fact we sound great on all songs that we did.

I, Wilfred introduced "Down By The Riverside" and once again, Brian told the audience to sing along and also clap as well and they all did.When the "...shake hands around the world..." lyrics came up, most of us including myself went to the audience and shook hands with as many people as we could, several members saying "May peace be with you" while shaking hands as audience very well responded with "Thank you" or "And also with you." Nancy introduced "Feeling Groovy" with only a few choir members tried but it became tongue-twisting to them singing the lyrics "Ba ba dee ah ba doo..."

Few just made up their own doo wop lyrics as I heard but of course, we don't care. We just enjoyed singing and the audience, who didn't catch that nor did they cared seem to love it. Then we did "New York, New York" in which Robert introduced thinking it was the last song, which it wasn't, but we'll take that and use the next song as an encore song. Anyhow the whole audience sang along and the male audience member in the wheelchair who I spoke about before loved what we sang so much that he danced in most of the songs and was singing, yes including this one. The last song we did (or encore) was "Give Us Hope" and Rene was the last person to introduce that one. The audience enjoyed the whole performance with a big applause and the same audience member (wheelchair), told us to take a bow in which we have done. Thanks to Brian (tenor) for his help in making the audience feel good, as well as playing his guitar and playing the tambourine, although it kinda hurt my ears (lol). Well that's all the story I have right now. Keep practicing, be well and enjoy your week. See you all Thursday. -Wilfred, Peace of Heart Tenor Section Leader

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.

High Notes on the High Line

It wasn’t exactly like singing in the subway.  Yes, we kept repeating our few good songs because the audience was fluid and transient.  But the High Line crowd was no in-a-hurry crowd. They were out for leisure, on an in-Manhattan getaway from Manhattan, taking a stroll on this road above the road, with wild grasses and flowers on either side.

Tucked away in a bend of the road, with the Hudson River behind us, our backs to the setting sun, was the Choir.  People streamed by from both directions, some turning their heads to look and listen even if they didn’t stop, others collecting at the railings to stay for three or four or five songs.  But even this stationary audience wasn’t like a regular audience.  They hadn’t come on purpose to hear us.  We just happened.

We did two sets--mainly repeats of Siyamba, Give Us Hope, Od Yavo, Down by the Riverside, and This Land is Your Land.  Our two brave a capella tries were Aquarius (René had to re-start us at the key change), and 59th Street Bridge (this one worked pretty well!).  In between the sets, and sometimes in between the songs, POHC Tenor Gary worked the crowd, announcing who we were and what our mission was, then walking among them to give out pamphlets.  They took him at his word when he said, “There’s only one thing we like better than singing, and that’s hearing other people sing, so please join us.”

A highlight of the evening was the little girl with the curly hair who stepped up to us, then stood still, staring at René.  He got down to her level, very close to the ground, conducting all the while.  All at once, as if a switch had been thrown, this still little girl began to jump up and down in time to the music.

Everyone, choir and audience, was in a good humor, and René didn’t seem to mind that he occasionally had to shield his eyes from the sun with one hand while he conducted us with the other. We’ve sung outside before, but always at ground level.  There’s something about being above it all while life goes on below that changes everything.

- Peace of Heart Alto

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 Ronald McDonald House

On my way to the Ronald McDonald House building on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, I noticed a guy with a nice hat carrying a drum. Could it be POHC Musical Facilitator, René? I sped up a little and said "Hello there!" He turned around with a serious look, but realized it was me, Wilfred! We chatted until we got to the security desk where we had to use a registry computer to sign in (a bit confusing, but security helped us out). We thought we were all clear, but then Tenor Anthony, arrived and brought our temporary picture IDs that we had left downstairs with security. The rest of the group arrived and we were a few minutes late starting our warm up. After we finished, we waited for more audience to show up, so we took a little rest until it was time to start the actual show. The audience was quite packed and then we were ready to begin. Baritone Larry opened the show with his welcome speech as well as introduction of the song, Siyahamba.

We followed with Jingle Bell Rock. Soprano Cheryl was in the group for this performance so we sang Hafinjan and started with her solo. Of course she was great, no question. We also sung Down By The Riverside while several members headed toward the audience shaking hands during the "I'm gonna shakes hands..." lyrics. Deck The Halls was next and we recevied a nice applause from the audience. We moved on to Imagine, then This Land Is Your Land (only a few audience members sang along), and Peace Salaam Shalom. We had enough altos to sing 50 Kilowatt Tree, A La Nanita and Little Bitty Pretty One (the last song with with Alex, Nancy and myself singing solos).

We all rocked the house! Then we finalized the performance with Give Us Hope and our theme song, Let There Be Peace On Earth, with Larry and René doing the closing speeches. The audience really enjoyed the performance with one audience member sharing her positive thoughts on the performance after the show. Afterwards, everyone left very happy. Happy Holidays to all!

- Peace of Heart Tenor 

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 Rivington House

On Tuesday, December 18, POHC visited Rivington House on Manhattan's Lower East Side. After showing our photo IDs to security and receiving our bright red visitor stickers, we were instructed to press PH in the elevator. This brought us to the pent house on the fifth floor. It consisted of two large rooms, one with chairs set up in rows and a grand piano covered with a red Christmas cloth, the other with physical therapy tables complete with pillows. We stored our coats and bags near the PT tables, and Tenor Anthony’s mom put out the pizza-with-everything she had brought for us. Back in the first room we did our warm-ups as a few staff members made final adjustments to the chair arrangement and someone on the loud speaker announced a Hearts Voices concert (meaning us) in the pent house. The residents--some using wheelchairs, others using canes, some walking without assistive devices--dribbled in as we were still running through a few bars of each song, deciding what to sing.They took their seats and watched intently, so we explained that this was just the rehearsal. It was fine with them—they seemed to like this taste of what was to come. One guy shouted out that he remembered us from last year.

Five minutes later, we began the real performance.As always, Siyahamba got us off to a rousing start. This audience loved everything we did. They clapped. They sang along. When we got to the line "gonna-shake-hands-around-the-world" from Down By the Riverside, and were making our way through the audience, a woman said “Happy Holidays” to me while I was singing and shaking her hand. René gave the audience instructions on how to join us for Little Bitty Pretty One, and they followed him to the letter, even to the softer and softer fade-out at the end. When he gave the final cut-off, they did so exactly on time! Tenor Wilfred and Soprano Gwen did a great job on the solos--without microphones.

Lily (former choir member, and the one who was the contact for this gig) slipped into the back of the audience while we were singing the third or fourth number. So when we got to the closing song, Let There Be Peace On Earth, I invited her up to sing it with us.

A woman in the front row thought I was inviting her up, and she came to stand next to the altos. This woman hardly smiled throughout the concert, but clapped and sang along from her seat. Now, standing in front with us and facing the audience, she still didn’t smile, but she knew all the words and kept her eye on René and did everything she was supposed to do as a member of the choir. René caught her eye to let her know he knew she was up there and that he was including her. After the applause, while we were still standing before the audience, she went back to her seat. Though she didn’t say anything, we could tell that this had given her a lot of pleasure. A nice reminder of how our mission to bring music to those in need includes allowing their voices (and hearts) to join with ours.

- Peace of Heart Alto

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 Queens Library

For me, an NYC newcomer, each POHC concert location is a fun way to see parts of the city off the beaten track. After solving a challenging 'shortest path problem' with the MTA trains and their weekend routes, I made my way to the Queens Library. One thing that struck me about the library was the heavy security. You expect it in airports, consulates and courthouses. But the benign act of reading is difficult to associate with possible criminal activity. Yet it is there, a vestige of the city's crime ridden past or an uncomfortable reminder of more current insecure times.
The security directed me to the library's auditorium where I found a few of the choir members already assembled. Rene sat at the charming baby grand piano placed just below the stage. After a few more choir members arrived we all went on stage and started our vocal warm ups. While we practised people heard the music and slowly trickled in. We took a short break and then started our performance.
A Queens Library event coordinator excitedly welcomed the audience and introduced the choir. Larry handed out lyrics to our songs and invited everyone to join us in singing. As in previous performances we started with 'Siyahamba'. Not only does it get the crowd excited, it also revs up the choir's energy for the entire performance. Probably one of the few songs no one needs music notation or lyrics to sing to!
Each song was introduced by a choir member and Barry really got in character to introduce the jazzed up version of 'Deck the Halls'. It was a complete crowd pleaser and we did a great job of it, gospel feel and all. Alex arrived just in time to introduce 'Little bitty pretty one' and rocked the solo, along with Nancy. Rene conducted us to do a wonderful decrescendo at the end of 'Little bitty pretty one' and we all 'mmmmed' to silence perfectly.
Our audience cheered us through but it was difficult to see their faces as most preferred the back rows and were hidden in the shadows. A few family members of our singers had also arrived to listen to us and were smiling throughout our performance. We concluded with 'Let there be peace' and mingled with the audience. It was a lovely rehearsal for our upcoming benefit concert.
- Noella, Peace of Heart Choir Soprano
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.