Carol Henry, Alberto Gamez, Carolyn Lincoln, Gregory Riviello, Kit Chan, Russell Munk

Carolyn Lincoln may have had the shortest commute in Outreach history since she lived on the compound less than a five-minute walk away from the Kindley Assisted Living Building. The other performers drove at least 10 – 40 minutes to the enormous Asbury Retirement Community in Gaithersburg, Maryland. On the program were three pianists, one French Horn, and a violin duo. The room was spacious with large glass windows and wood floors. A very bright-sounding Baldwin Grand piano sat on a small carpet in the far left corner. After trying it out, we decided to leave the lid open at half-stick to ensure that all 29 residents would hear the music. After a brief introduction about the AMSF we began the recital at 3:00 p.m.

Our first performer, Gregory Riviello, started with a beautiful rendition of Nocturne in Eb major Op. 9 No.2 by the great Polish composer, Frederic Chopin (1810 – 1849). He followed that with three delightful Christmas pieces which inspired the residents to hum along. They were “I’ll be Home for Christmas” by Kim Gannon and Walter Kent, recorded by Bing Crosby in 1943; “The Christmas Song” also known as “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” by Mel Torme and Robert Wells, written in 1945 and recorded by Nat King Cole in 1946; and “Sleigh Ride” by Mitchell Parish and Leroy Anderson, written in 1948. Gregory took “Sleigh Ride” at a very fast tempo which energized the room and brought fetching smiles to many faces as his fingers flew across the keys with rhythmic precision. Each one of Gregory’s pieces drew enthusiastic applause.

Kit Chan, our French Horn player, performed next. She played “Panis angelicus,” which is Latin for “Bread of Angels.” It is the penultimate verse of the hymn “Sacris Solemniis” written by Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274), for the feast of Corpus Christi. Kit played the version set to music by Cesar Franck in 1872 from Messe Solennelle, Op. 12. Kit’s horn had the sweet velvety sound that is characteristic of the instrument. She displayed admirable perseverance and composure despite the bane of all brasswind players — condensation! Kit dexterously removed her slides, emptied the condensation, replaced the slides, and continued playing without batting an eyelid! As she ended the piece, the audience applauded warmly.

Alberto Gamez is a regular performer at Community Outreach. His two choices for this recital were both works by renowned German composer, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750). He played Bach’s well-known Prelude in C major No. 1 BWV 846, and made the piano sing as the legato broken chords flowed freely from his fingers. His second piece was Minuet in G major which was also very familiar. Alberto’s playing was musical and he handled the numerous right-hand embellishments throughout the piece with characteristic competence.

Our third pianist was Russell Munk who performed four pieces, two solos and two for sing-along. His first solo piece was a Prelude by Russian composer Reinhold Gliere (1875 – 1956), and his second piece was the song  “Let There Be Peace on Earth” by Sy Miller and Jill Jackson-Miller written in 1955, arranged by Dan Coates. Russell mentioned that he felt the latter choice was most fitting for present times with its emphasis on “peace.” His two choices for the sing-along were “White Christmas” by American composer and lyricist Irving Berlin (1888 – 1989), and the well-loved Christmas carol “Joy to the World,” an adaptation of Psalm 98 by the English minister, Isaac Watts (1674 – 1748). Russell played the piano accompaniment while Carol Henry energetically led the singing in her strong mezzo-soprano voice. Russell had printed and distributed the words to the residents to encourage participation, and we were not disappointed!

Carolyn Lincoln and Carol Henry closed the recital with several violin duets. Carol played 1st violin and Carolyn 2nd violin for six seasonal Christmas carols which included “Go Tell it On the Mountain,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” “Jingle Bells,” “O Holy Night,” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Despite the disparity in their levels — Carolyn being the veteran violinist and Carol the novice — they blended well and made a truly entertaining pair! Carol and Carolyn certainly succeeded in spreading Christmas cheer as the residents swayed animatedly and sang along. This audience seemed to enjoy hearing the music as much as the performers enjoyed playing it.

After the recital, we took a group photo near the piano in our red Christmas hats and then lingered to mingle and chat with the residents who were quite friendly. One lady named Judith Walkman headed straight over to Gregory Riviello and asked him to show her his music for “Sleigh Ride” and “The Christmas Song.” He was most willing to comply and whipped out the music sheets to show her. Being a pianist herself, she was impressed with Gregory’s playing and particularly liked the unique harmony-rich arrangements of his music. She even wanted to know where the group would be performing next so that she could come and hear us! This response is a regular occurrence at Community Outreach recitals as we often encounter residents who are music lovers themselves and who have played different instruments in their youth. We encourage them to consider joining the AMSF!