Before rehearsal I am speaking to Bob Cilman, founder, Musical Director and harmonica player extraordinaire for Young@Heart. I tell him what people in the chorus have been saying to me about Young@Heart: they speak of it like a second family; they wonder what they would do without it in their lives. “Well, it’s my favourite 4 hours of the week too” he says. I tell him many of the groups I know have a fairly set repertoire that they repeat. “We do new songs ALL THE TIME” he says. “Their repertory is incredible. They keep rising to the challenge.”
I ask how they learn new songs. “The band hears the original, and the lead singer. But we want to make it our own so encourage them to stop listening as soon as they can. Everyone gets a copy of the words and hears the music, there is no music on paper. Occasionally people throw in a harmony and if it works we keep it and add to it.”
The rehearsal today is extraordinary. It’s clear after Bob having a quiet word on Monday about upping the stakes that people have gone home and really swotted up on the words, be they Flemish or English. The level of performance has gone up quite a few notches, almost to performance standard.
Gloria is the shy woman who on Monday was asked to wear her song like a sweater. It’s clear she’s been working hard at home and it has paid off.
If I needed you….. would you come to me
Would you come to me…for to ease my pain
Gloria is tiny (4’10”) and her singing partner is an enormous 6’2”. They sing it again and get a clap from the group. He hugs her. “That was wonderful” he says. She blushes with joy.
They sing through songs they know well, just to keep them fresh. Tension gone, it’s all fun, it feels less like a rehearsal and more like a joyous party, a love fest.
As rehearsal ends we hear about Patricia, the woman of 88 who told the story in Roy’s drama class yesterday. She has broken her collarbone. Despite the strength and power of Young@Heart, I am reminded of the things you can’t forget with a group whose youngest member is 73.