Twice a year—winter and summer—our Asbury Tower chorus performs a concert. The attendance is usually respectable, with only a few chairs left empty, and the applause isn’t deafening but it’s friendly.

This year was different. From the dress rehearsal on, word-of-mouth was in high gear and, as 2:00 pm on the first concert day approached, the audience—other residents and family members—moved steadily into the community room. Maintenance increased the number of chairs until the performance area bulged in all directions. A crowd! We weren’t used to that.

There were reasons for the success: We were celebrating Frank Sinatra’s 100 year life; the songs were all his and, given our age range, they were ours too. His words coming to us from the large video screen, individual photos of each of us, and our indelible memories of this music verified the relationship.

Then there were our efforts. (Amateurs shine through efforts, don’t they?) Only one of us ever sang professionally but all of us gave it our very best.

But the essential component of the concert’s success—and everyone agrees on it—is Rodney. For three years our brilliant director, musician, artist and supreme dispenser of encouragement, Rodney Pallanck, has volunteered his time and enormous talent to. . . us! Through so many rehearsals, sometimes twice weekly, he was always positive, always ready to see the humor, always generous. At one rehearsal he gave each of us a Sinatra tote bag commemorating the upcoming event. And at Rodney’s request, the Manhattan company where he works as a graphic artist donated copy paper—in massive amounts—for our music, and art materials for our large concert sign, our programs.

When the Big Day came, it came with kindness. Along with his partner and his friends, who vigorously cheered our exertions, brought us water bottles and carried heavy things, Rodney’s parents traveled up from Baltimore to help with photos, provide homemade refreshments and contribute more cheering.

Rodney found us as a result of an 80 e-mail search for a director by our chorus manager. He responded because he wanted to do something for the community and from the initial meeting, he’s been a solid member of our community. To repeat, he’s a volunteer, one who gives naturally and seems unaware of it. (He’s embarrassed each year when we present him with a gift.) He probably wouldn’t understand our gratitude for everything he’s done for us. “It’s fun,” he would say.

What we say, to paraphrase Frank, is “He makes us feel so young!”

This post was written by Dominican Sister of Hope Marianne Watts, OP.
Click here for more of Sister Marianne’s writing.