At Common Ground

I walked down West 43rd Street and I arrived at a Renaissance-style building and knew I had found the place wherePeace of Heart Choir would be performing an outreach concert later that evening.  I walked in and showed my ID and signed in at the front desk.  The building reminded me of an old-time gleaming movie palace with its high ceilings, its winding staircase and mezzanine lined with holiday lights and garland and various holiday decorations—its architecture reminiscent of a bygone era.

The Times Square Hotel has a rich history. Built by the developer Henry Claman in 1922, it originally catered to single men and then to single women. Throughout the years, this majestic building now on the official National Register of Historic Places in Manhattan, has undergone many incarnations. Today, it is owned by Common Ground as its flagship supportive housing residence whose mission is toprovide affordable housing for the formerly homeless, some of whom live with HIV/AIDS, mental illness, or physical disabilities, and working professionals—many of whom are low-income performing artists including several jazz musicians.

In the center of the lobby were two beautiful Christmas trees with a gold statue of a cherub in between the two Christmas trees. There was a piano in front of the statue and a smaller gold statue of a cherub to the left of the first Christmas tree. Chairs were set up for the audience.  René was rehearsing the songs we would be performing. We ran through several songs in our repertoire. Some people sat in the audience and watched. Soon enough it was time to start.

Gary introduced the choir and its mission to the audience. The audience tricked in as people walked through the lobby and decided to sit down or stop and listen as they had hot cocoa or coffee that was set up on a table in the lobby.

Our first song, Pharrell’s chart-topper, “Happy” was a great way to start the outreach. It was infectiously upbeat and hit just the right note with the audience.  We performed Paul McCartney’s response to racial tensions in the US during the spring of 1968, the classic “Blackbird”, with a lovely solo by Brian.  As the outreach progressed, our audience grew. One man stood in the mezzanine showing his obvious appreciation of the music as he swayed his body to the music. We really had him on his feet.

We sounded pretty on a trio of love songs we performed: the first one, the Indian love song, “Mahi Ve”, the second, the Spanish love song, “Si La Nieve” introduced by Deb who had proposed it, and finally, the Korean love song, “Arirang” introduced by Sheila.

We performed some of our core songs too—the James Taylor standard, “That Lonesome Road” with a beautiful solo by Nancy, our sing-alongs “Peace Like A River”, “Rock-A-My-Soul”, and“Down By the Riverside”. “Peace Like A River” sounded strong and triumphant.   We split up our audience into three sections as is customary for“Rock-A-My Soul” and then went into each section to coach the audience their respective parts. This was such a wonderful exercise in audience participation. They really seemed to enjoy singing along! During “Down By The Riverside”, we went out into the audience to shake hands at the part that prompts us to do so. It was a warm-hearted welcome from a mostly male audience. The audience had grown and now most of the 40 or so seats were now filled.

Another core song, the Matisyahu anthem for peace, “One Day” sounded beautiful with really lovely solos by Gary and Hikari. As René noted, this song has really become part an important part of most of our outreaches. One audience member definitely agreed. He singled out the song and in particular how much he liked Gary’s voice.

We performed three holiday songs: “Deck The Halls”, “Seven Principles”, and “AlHaNissim”. Susie introduced the holiday classic “Deck The Halls” and as she noted, we performed a jazzy rendition of this classic. The man in the mezzanine definitely appreciated our jazzy spin on this traditional song. He swayed to and fro with a smile on his face. The Kwanzaa song “Seven Principles” highlighting each of the principles of each day of the celebration sounded lovely and featured nice vocal support from Gail. The Hebrew celebratory Chanukah song, “Al HaNissim” sounded exuberant and spirited.

René included one of our crowd favorites, the unofficial anthem of Cuba, “Guantanamera” meaning “woman from Guantanamo” whose better known official lyrics are inspired by the poetry of José Martí. Our voices were lively and joyous and the audience definitely appreciated it.  René noted how José Feliciano was performing just down the block at BB King Blues Club and Grill. This inspired René to lead us in an impromptu fun and spirited version of “Feliz Navidad”. 

Charlie introduced “Let There Be Peace On Earth”. He had proposed the song many years ago when Peace of HeartChoir was first formed, and the song has since become the de facto unofficial anthem of our choir and our signature closing song. We sounded magnificent featuring a sublime solo by Charlie.

As René noted, a special thanks to Brian, Ruth, Marv and Gail who added so much to this outreach with their wonderful musical accompaniment.

When the concert was over, René directed us to take our bows to the applause of a very appreciative audience. As we dispersed after the concert and said our goodbyes, I looked around and saw the old black-and-white photos that lined the walls celebrating the building’s history. A sign in the back read“Peace of Heart Choir Performance 6:00PM – Lobby * Coffee, Cocoa, and Cookies* “.  I looked up at the majestic mezzanine with its sweeping staircase and lovely decorations and thought of the wonderful acoustics of the space where we had just performed. This had been such a lovely place to sing--what a wonderful way to end our outreach season!!

Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season! Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year!  Looking forward to seeing everyone in 2016!

-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 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 JCC

I opened the door of the Jewish Community Center (JCC) and checked in. I spotted Brian checking in as well and we chatted as we took the elevator down to the lower level where the rest of our fellow Peace of Heart Choir members had gathered to rehearse for our outreach.  There would be no instruments during this outreach and so our outreach concert would be performed a capella as it was part of a Shabbat R & R program.

We ran through various songs of our repertoire and before each song, Rene consulted Wilfred several times confirming pitches as we were performing a capella. We sounded good in our rehearsal room. We took a short break while chairs were being set up in the JCC lobby where we were to perform, and before we knew it, we were performing our first song, “Happy” with effervescence and verve and an infectious spirit that drew in our audience. There were about 60 people in attendance in the audience of various ages, particularly many young children and their parents. There was also some hustle and bustle with people passing through to get refreshments and children running about and playing as we sang. We performed with a colorful, cosmic-looking backdrop as our landscape standing out amidst the wood paneling—a series of artwork entitled ”Labscapes: Views Through the Microscope”.

At this point, Lily took the opportunity to introduce the choir and talk to the audience about who we are and our mission. Our second song, a traditional Hebrew song we have performed before, the upbeat “Od Yavo” was performed with energy to an enthusiastic crowd who truly appreciated it. 

We continued with the James Taylor standard, “That Lonesome Road”. The song sounded lovely and was enriched by a wonderfully expressive solo by Nancy.  The sing-along “Peace Like A River” was next. One of the highlights of the outreach, we were lively and strong and joyous as several choir members were clapping their hands and many appreciative audience members were clapping right along with us.  Sheila introduced our next song, one of our core songs--the Korean love song, “Arirang”. We sounded lovely and melodic even without the usual musical accompaniment of the flutes.

Deb introduced the beautiful Spanish love song, “Si La Nieve”. All choral sections blended so well together to make the song so full and colorful. Lily introduced our next song, the traditional Hebrew prayer for peace, “Ose Shalom”. The crowd followed along as the tempo gradually increased. 

During the anti-war sing-along, “Down By the Riverside”, we went into the audience as we customarily do to shake hands with audience members.  We shook hands with many small children and their parents as well. One man sitting in the front row shook my hand. The man’s daughter who had been eating an apple as we sang, stopped eating and shook my hand too.

Barry introduced the Kwaanza song, “Seven Principles” with a lovely solo by Gail. The popular Hebrew song, “Al Hanissim” was next with an introduction by Lily who spoke of its significance as we approach the holiday season of Hanukkah. Our next song, the sing-along “Rock-A-My-Soul” was lively as we broke into three parts, coaching the audience their respective descants. I was part of the second descant and I particularly enjoyed the physical simulation of it as we raised and lower our arms and I know the audience agreed, particularly the children.

The Jim Papoulis anthem proclaiming children as our future, “Give Us Hope” was next. We have performed it countless times before and this time was no different. We sounded especially lovely as our voices truly became one and the feeling of the music was carried forth to our audience.

Lily closed out our outreach with an introduction of our signature closing song, “Let There Be Peace On Earth” with an emphasis on the words, ‘Let Peace Begin With Me’.  “Let There Be Peace On Earth” sounded first-rate, featuring a lovely duet between Lily and Deb. The outreach over, Rene instructed us to take our bows to the applause of an appreciative audience.

It had been a great outreach—lovely music, smiling children and receptive audience. It was so great an outreach that Rene who had not been feeling well earlier in the day, declared that by the third song he had been healed--thus, a true testament to the healing power of 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

At PS 188X Bronx

I walked into PS188x@H790 in the Bronx and I checked in with the security guard who directed me to the auditorium downstairs where Peace of Heart Choir would be performing later that afternoon. I opened the door to find a beautiful space—a gleaming auditorium with perhaps 200 seats equipped with a lovely stage, a beautiful baby grand piano and sound system. I joined the choir on stage. Brian was singing and playing guitar—running through his solo on “Blackbird.”  Rene then directed us through several other pieces in our repertoire.

There was definitely an excitement in the air. This school is the school where Peace of Heart Choir member, Brian Muni, works as an occupational therapist and runs a music program. We would be performing for about 50 students. Half of the school’s students have special needs. It was a good rehearsal but even more glorious was the outreach.

When our rehearsal was over, we exited the stage and Brian, our host, introduced his students. They took the stage--about 10-15 students--ready to sing a song of Thanksgiving.  In their song of gratitude, I heard the word “happy” several times and thought of our own opening song, the Pharrell Williams single, “Happy.” Barry and I watched in the wings and we looked at each other and commented how wonderful they were. We were all touched and now it was time for our outreach to begin. We took the stage and Rene said a few words.  I then introduced our opening song, “Happy”, noting how grateful we were for the students’ performance, how this song makes us happy and we hope it makes them happy too. We performed “Happy” with an indefatigable exhilaration and the students responded in kind.  The students were following along and clapping--they were clearly happy to see us and we were happy to see them.

Gail introduced our next song, the James Taylor standard, “That Lonesome Road” and invited the students to look up James Taylor if they weren’t familiar with him.  The song was in sharp contrast to our opening song, “Happy”—both in content and tone. “That Lonesome Road” was solemn punctuated by fine vocal support from Gail.  Our next song was the sing-along, “Peace Like A River”.  We sang energetically and joyously. Some students clapped along with us here as well.  

It was now time for one of our crowd favorites, “Guantanamera”.  But first, Brian called upon his students for volunteers. Brian’s original request was actually for six volunteers. About 15 students enthusiastically raised their hands and Brian graciously obliged all of them. “Well, that’s more than six but you can all come up here,” Brian said as he waved his hand gesturing them to step forward.  His rapport with his students was evident and their enthusiasm was a clear sign.

Rene then ran an impromptu workshop for the students before we performed “Guantanamera”.  The students were going to provide part of our musical accompaniment . Rene starting pulling objects from his treasure trove or his “magic bag” as he affectionately referred to it. He had shown us the “magic bag” earlier during rehearsal. Rene handed out some musical instruments including POM bottles and coconut water bottles “magically” transformed into musical instruments by blending rice and most importantly, water. He explained this to the students and they were transfixed and excited at the same time. After Rene’s instruction, the moment had arrived for “Guantanamera” to start with Brian and Rene on musical accompaniment--both on guitars--the students wholeheartedly playing their newly acquired “magic” instruments and our choir singing our hearts out with joy and a sense of fun. Our audience was obviously enjoying it.

Next was our sing-along, “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore” with Brian and Rene providing musical accompaniment. We followed it up with a song popularized by the Beatles, “Blackbird” with our host, Brian, providing lovely vocals and musical accompaniment on guitar and Olga P. providing lovely vocal support. Olga T. was the embodiment of the blackbird, breathing life into the small blue plastic birdie discovered by Rene among the treasures of a small store in Beacon, NY.

At this point, Ruth took the opportunity to introduce the choir and our mission.  Gary introduced our next song, Matisyahu’s call for peace, “One Day” with lovely solos by Gwyn and Gary.  Gail and Marv, both on flutes, provided perfectly whimsical musical accompaniment for the lyrical Korean love song, “Arirang” with an introduction by Sheila.

Our next song was the sing-along, “Down By the Riverside”. We usually go into the audience and shake hands at the respective parts. Instead, we simulated the motion of shaking hands directed towards the audience and then we proceeded to shake each other’s hands.

Barry introduced our next song that highlights the principles of each of the seven days of Kwaanza--“Seven Principles”—which featured a lovely solo by Gail.

Next was Brian Muni’s “Pieces of the World”.  As Brian explained in his intro, he was inspired to write this song by some of his students. The song sounded beautiful with solos by Olga P., Gail, me, and Gary.

We concluded with our signature closing song, “Let There Be Peace On Earth” with an introduction by Larry who stressed the importance of peace, especially in the strife-ridden world of today and emphasized the words, ‘and let it begin with me’. Our voices soared in the auditorium. Brian invited the audience to have a round of applause for ThePeace of Heart Choir. We took a bow to very appreciative applause from the audience.

But we would remain on stage. The students joined us on stage to perform their final song, “Lean on Me” and they invited us to sing along and so we did, smiling and moved by their efforts.  

The choir had been in fine form this afternoon. Brian had been a wonderful host and Brian and Rene had been a great team providing musical accompaniment and working with the students. Rene jumped on and off the stage at various times during rehearsal and during the outreach. We all worried a bit at times for his safety but it definitely added to the spontaneity of the outreach. There had been moments of joy and laughter—an afternoon of great music and great emotion.

After the concert, I interviewed several students who had been part of the outreach. One student said the outreach made her happy because she loves music. Another student said that it made him happy too. She started to dance because she was happy and then another student started and then so did I. It shouldn’t be surprising that when I asked each of the students to identify their favorite song of the outreach, they replied “Happy” in unison with big smiles on their faces.

As I walked through the corridors of the school, I felt very touched and I felt very fortunate to have been part of this very special outreach.  I took note of the hallways with their inspirational messages, and the emphasis on the arts, drama, and music.  I noticed one message in particular that struck me on one of the rugs in one office. It read: “When one student graduates, we all succeed.”  Yes, indeed.

It had been an inspiring and heartfelt afternoon. Mr. H., one audience member, said that from where he had sat in the audience, it was as if our two great choirs—Peace of Heart Choir and the students’ choir--had melded together as one and you would think we had practiced together all of our lives.  He then asked when we were coming back and added, “We definitely need more of this here.”

-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 Coler Rehabilitation and Nursing Facility

At The Coler Rehabilitation and Nursing Facility

It was a warm autumn afternoon on Sunday. I got off the F train at the Roosevelt Island stop and I spotted fellow choir members, Howard, and then Wilfred, and then Sheila and Doug. We chatted as we made our way up the seemingly endless escalators in the station. We made our way above ground looking for the red shuttle bus stop that would bring us to our destination—Coler Rehabilitation and Nursing Facility, a government-run, 815-bed nursing home--where Peace of Heart Choir was scheduled to perform an outreach concert later that afternoon. 

At the International Peace Vigil

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon—one of those days in Indian summer with bright blue skies as far as the eye can see with not a cloud in the sky.  There was a slight breeze too, nice and pleasant and refreshing on the skin.  Sunday, September 20th, 2015, marked the observance of International Peace Day. September 21st is actually the official day but most events marking the day fell to the weekend day, Sunday, September 20th this year.

Incidentally, it was first observed in 1982 and it was set to be observed September 11, 2001, however, it was changed that year to September 21st instead, in light of the events of 9/11. As Wikipedia states, International Peace Day was declared as a result of a UN resolution sponsored by the United Kingdom and Costa Rica dedicated to promoting and strengthening the ideals of peace.

I walked through Strawberry Fields where there were the usual crowds and tourists taking photos with the Imagine mosaic--one man singing Beatles songs but perhaps a bigger crowd today in observance of International Peace Day.  I continued to walk though Central Park until I spotted the iconic Naumberg Bandshell, the park’s only Neo-Classical building and home to many musical performances in the last 100 years including Irving Berlin and Duke Ellington—and the location where Peace of Heart Choir would perform as one of several musical performances throughout the day to mark the annual International Vigil for Peace Concert. I saw several fellow choir members sitting and standing around benches and went to join them. We would soon meet up with Rene.  We waited for more members to arrive and we did an abbreviated warm-up at another spot.

Our call time was 1:30PM and we were scheduled to start at 2PM.  As it neared 2PM, and another act was still performing, the organizers told Gary that there were still several more performers to take the stage and that we would probably be performing around 3PM. We decided to go perform in another spot.  At first, we made our way down the steps to the breathtaking underpass on the way to the Bethesda Fountain with its beautiful architecture and wonderful acoustics and sightings of several brides and their bridesmaids in their colorful attire taking photos. This would be the spot, we thought, for our pop-up concert. Turns out an opera singer had the same idea and had staked the spot out before us.

So on we went until we found the same spot where we had performed encore pop-ups at this event before --the idyllic setting of water and green lush trees as our backdrop. Rene had us go through several key parts of the songs we would perform. Crowds started to gather to listen to us. There was an ebb and flow with some listening to one song or parts of a song and some staying for all of our songs. We performed a rousing “Guantanamera”,  an inspiring “Pieces of the World” with vocals by Olga P., Gail, me, and Brian and an introduction by Brian,  “One Day” with vocal support from Gary and Olga P., and an uplifting “Give Us Hope”.  All of the pieces featured a musical collaboration of Rene and Brian providing instrumentals.

Our pop-up concert performed to a sea of smiles and applause from our audience even exuberant canines. We ventured forth to make our way back to the waiting area as it was getting close to 3PM, our newly scheduled time to perform on the Bandshell stage.

When we arrived back to the waiting area, Gary was told by the organizers that we would have to wait longer to perform. As we waited, that breeze started to fade, and the sun felt strong and many choir members tried to find shade concerned they might burn. We finally got to the stage a little before 3:30PM, as we were invited to join The New York City Street Singers, a group one of our choir members, Cheryl, performs with.  The New York City Street Singers were formed by Pete Seeger in 1981.  As we waited in the wings, we were offered Poland Spring waters. And then before we knew it, it was time. So, we quickly took the stage, getting into position according to sections. Several of us, realized Brian wasn’t there and so, Rene, announced we would wait a moment for him. And then, he appeared and we were ready to start.

Our first piece, “Guantanamera” was a collaboration with The New York City Street Singers. The next song was “Pieces of the World” with Olga P., Gail, me, and Brian on vocals. The stage was brightly decorated with inflated globes that you were invited to play with lining the front of the stage. As we neared the end of the song, singing the lyrics, “Pieces of this World”, an adorable little dark-haired girl played with the inflatable globe--a tangible representation of the "world" we sing of in this song--pushing it to and fro and ending on perfect time with the music I may add. So fitting, really. Our last song was “One Day” with Gary and Olga P. on vocals. Rene and Brian again continued their musical collaboration throughout.  We were supposed to perform a fourth song, “Give Us Hope” but we were told that they were running short on time. They announced us again. There was applause. One of the organizers thanked us as we exited the stage and she said that we did a great job to several of us and thanked us for our patience.

It was a day of waiting and patience and we had passed the test.  So we wound up doing our encore first this time—a different order but, no worries, everything happens as it should.  Patience is definitely a cornerstone of peaceful discourse and we had passed the test. I thought of the little girl rolling the globe—she was the future we sing of in “Give Us Hope.” As always, it is an honor to be part of an event celebrating peace. I looked up at the sign in front of the stage, ‘May Peace Prevail On Earth’--our sentiments indeed. 

In Harmony,

Carrie Wesolowski, Alto 1

At Queens Library

For an upper-west-sider who rarely ventures into Queens, I felt I was in a foreign country when I got off the #7 train at Main Street.  The store signs were in Asian characters, and people on the corner were handing out flyers in Asian characters.  A man thrust a flyer toward me, looked at my face, and took it back. Fortunately, the street signs were in the roman alphabet, and I found my way to the library easily.

At Central Park

Summertime, and the living is easy at 6:00 in Central Park.  Trees and statues provide shade, and anyway, it’s a bit cooler today. POHC-ers arrive by twos and threes, congregating in their brightly colored tops, new members making the acquaintance of old ones.  No lay-lee-la-lo-loo today.  Instead, off to the side, Renee and Leslie go over the guitar chords that will accompany us.  Rene travels light tonight—no piano.