2015-04-10 / Community

Concert, program centers on Alzheimer’s disease

The Choral Art Society presents the New England premiere of Robert S. Cohen’s “Alzheimer’s Stories” in the Choral Art Society’s “Time Remembered –Time Forgotten,” at 6:45 p.m. Saturday, May 9 at South Portland High School Auditorium. The event brings together music, information and resources for families, friends and caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s disease.

The evening begins in the concert hall with a 6:45 p.m. informational forum featuring Music Director Dr. Robert Russell, Cohen, Alzheimer’s Association Maine Chapter Program Director William Kirkpatrick, music therapist Kate Beever and poet/actress/activist Judy Prescott, author of “Searching for Cecy: Reflections on Alzheimer’s.”

The 8 p.m. concert includes songs of celebration and remembrance performed by the Choral Art Camerata, poetry readings by Prescott, and “Alzheimer’s Stories” performed by the Choral Art Masterworks Chorus.

Choral Art Society member Karen Birthisel commented on the emotion that comes through with the performance: “These are the words of real people, be they caretakers or their affected loved ones. Underlying it all is a lifeaffirming vibrancy. You hear voices layered one over another, mirroring how one feels in the presence of one whose memory is lost – the confusion, the love, the processing of grief and gratitude, the speaking, the experiences. You hear precious memories of what had been retained by others, all lovingly woven together in melody.”

“Alzheimer’s Stories” was commissioned by the Susquehanna Valley Chorale, where it premiered in 2009 at a program entitled “Monument to Memory.” The work is in three movements, loosely mimicking the progression of the disease. They are “The Numbers,” “The Stories,” and “For the Caregivers.” The final movement leaves the audience with this message:

Find those you love in the dark and light. Help them through the days and nights. Keep faith. They sense what they cannot show. Love and music are the last things to go. Sing anything.

Attendees are invited to submit photos of loved ones, prior to the performance and names will be printed in the concert program. The deadline for submissions is Saturday, May 2, and complete details can be found online at choralart.org. In addition, the concert lobby features a gallery display of therapies and coping ideas for Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers.

General admission tickets can be purchased online at choralart.org. A portion of the ticket sales goes to the Maine Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

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