Photo: Dr. Ryan Luhrs

Hickory – There’s no shortage of choral music repertoire that could be categorized as expressions of praise, joy, peace, comfort, hope, etc. Less common is music inspired by a disease and its impact on tens of millions of people in the United States alone. Enter Robert S. Cohen’s Alzheimer’s Stories, a 30-minute choral work that seeks to offer some semblance of hope in response to this debilitating disease. It was commissioned by a Susquehanna Valley Chorale (PA) chorister in honor of his parents, who both died from Alzheimer’s. The libretto was created by Hershel Garfein, who drew on testimony of Susquehanna Valley Chorale members and the local community who shared their experiences with friends and family who had the disease. In three movements, the work features mezzo-soprano and baritone soloists, choir, and a 13-piece instrumental ensemble. Different elements of living with Alzheimer’s are explored, including history, poignancy, humor, hopelessness and hope, concluding with the text:

Keep faith.
They sense what they cannot show.
Love and music are the last things to go.
Sing anything.

Alzheimer’s Stories is unlike any other piece of music I’ve encountered, and I’m thrilled that HCS will give its North Carolina premiere at our fall concert, “Love and Music Endure”, on Sunday, October 22, 3pm, at Lenoir Rhyne’s P.E. Monroe Auditorium.

We appreciate the support of our community in bringing this work to the area and are especially grateful to our primary concert underwriters, Corning and EveryAge/Abernethy Laurels, as well as support from Catawba Valley Health Systems. We welcome featured soloists Alexandria McNelly, soprano and Edward Bland, baritone along with a chamber orchestra for this moving performance.

Not only does the work offer hope for caregivers and those among us who have been impacted by this disease, but in a broader sense, reminds us of the power of music to heal, connect, and provide comfort when all else seems lost. Additionally, the choir is one of 12 area organizations participating in The Art of Compassion, a Hickory-based project whose mission is the “education, encouragement, support, and love for others through the power of storytelling, art, and entertainment”. To that end, choir members have visited area assisted living memory care units and will be participating in the October 28 Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Unifour, NC. We invite you to join us this Sunday, October 22, 3 pm, in P E Monroe Auditorium at Lenoir Rhyne University, Hickory.

Hickory Choral Society concerts are free and open to the public. For more information contact HCS:, [email protected], (828) 322-2210