"Alzheimer's Stories" Music by Robert S. Cohen Libretto by Herschel Garfein
The Fort Dodge Choral Society will be performing "Alzheimer's Stories" this Sunday in association with the Alzheimer's Association.
Alzheimer's Stories, " recently published by C.F. Peters, is a work for soloists, chorus and ensemble (14 instruments) based on real stories by ordinary people whose lives have been touched by Alzheimer's disease. Premiered by the Susquehanna Valley Chorale in 2009 and broadcast on Pennsylvania Public Radio & Television, the project was a result of a commission from a chorus member whose parents had both died from the disease and wanted to fund a musical work that would both honor their memory and provide people greater awareness of the personal affect this disease has on the lives of both patients and loved ones. Chorus members were asked to post stories on a blog and from approximately 90 submissions, 18 were chosen by Herschel Garfein - the 2011 Grammy nominated librettist of the opera Elmer Gantry - to form the basis for the text.The work is in three movements: "The Numbers" - a historical and clinical examination of the disease; "The Stories" - a compilation of the stories posted on the blog; and "For the Caregivers" -advice for those who care for those with the disease. The work ends with the following text based on the experience of a caregiver:
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.
Audiences who have heard the work have been moved to tears, laughter and given a sense of hope through the work's focus on the power of music to communicate.
"Alzheimer's Stories" will also be receiving performances in Nebraska, Wyoming, Los Angeles, Cleveland and Vienna this coming year. Given the ever growing number of people with this disease, the audience for this work is vast and represents an opportunity to address a subject that until recently was rarely discussed in public, let alone in a work with pathos, hope and even a good measure of humor. You can hear a recording on my website, or, on YouTube.
Robert S. Cohen