by Daniel Hathaway
Martin Kessler will conduct the Suburban Symphony Orchestra in a special Severance Hall concert on Sunday, November 18 at 4:00 pm based around Robert S. Cohen and Herschel Garfein’s Alzheimer’s Stories. The performance is a benefit for the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Cleveland and the University Hospitals Neurological Institute. How Cohen and Garfein’s piece came to be written and how it came to be performed in Cleveland are interesting narratives of their own.
An anonymous member of Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna Valley Chorale made a donation in 2007 toward commissioning a piece dealing with Alzheimer’s disease in honor of his parents, who had both died of that irreversible neurological condition. A blog was set up in cooperation with Garfein (the librettist for Elmer Gantry and Rosenkranz and Guildenstern are Dead) to collect stories from chorus and community members who had dealt with the disease. The work was premiered in October, 2009 at the Weis Center at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, along with works by Cohen’s teacher, Ron Nelson, and was recorded for radio and television by PBS. (Read the libretto and listen to excerpts here). [Read more…]