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Young@Heart Chorus®
28 N. Maple Street
Florence, MA 01062
USA

site by ardent design

Our Story...

When Bob Cilman and Judith Sharpe organized the Young@Heart (Y@H) in 1982 all of the members lived in an elderly housing project in Northampton, MA called the Walter Salvo House. The first group included elders who lived through both World Wars. One of our members had fought in the Battle of the Somme as a 16 year old and another, Anna Main, lost her husband in the First World War. Anna was a stand-up comic who at 88 told jokes that only she could get away with. She sang with us until she was 100. We celebrated her 100th birthday with a parade downtown. We actually had to reschedule the parade for a year later when her family informed us that we had the date wrong and she was only 99. This initial group also included Diamond Lillian Aubrey who came on our first two European tours and wowed the audiences with her deadpan version of Manfred Mann’s “Doo Wah Diddy”. In later years she appeared “on stage” via video, performing the Stone’s “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”.

By 1983 our original group was ready to create our first stage production. We enlisted the support of Roy Faudree from No Theater to stage “Stompin’ at the Salvo”. No Theater was doing the most intriguing theater work in town and I was stunned when Roy agreed to stage the first show. That first production was memorable for the sensation and buzz it created in town. The show sold out four times and brought in a broad cross section of younger and older people from the community. It also brought us new performers. In early 1984 Eileen Hall, Warren Clark, and Ralph Intorcio joined the group. Warren and Ralph were both very good at doing female impersonations. Warren took on the persona of Sophie Tucker, a popular vaudevillian stage performer and Ralph did a send-up of Carol Channing’s “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”. Eileen was born and raised in London and brought us an array of different routines, including strip, mime and the song “Nobody Loves a Fairy When She’s ...Ninety.” Y@H decided to combine these performances with a group of Latino break-dancers from another local housing project. The result was “Boola Boola Bimini Bop”. These two shows were the first of many collaborations Y@H created with different arts groups in town. A few others included "Oh No a Condo" in 1988, with Cambodian folk artists and punk rockers; in 1991 “Louis Lou I – A Revolting Musical” reunited us with Roy and No Theater for a huge production (over 100 people involved). The piece was a re-telling of the French Revolution using the songs of Sinatra. In 1994 Y@H created "Flaming Saddles", a big campy production with the Pioneer Valley Gay Men’s Chorus written by Sally Rubenstone. There were many other community collaborations along the way.

In 1996 No Theater was in Rotterdam performing in the annual R Festival. Roy asked the organizers about the theme for the next year’s festival. When he discovered that it was Forever Young, he told the organizers about Young@Heart and plans began to bring the group over to Europe. This was the first time we would create a stage production that just included members of the chorus. Mixing songs and costumes from past shows with some new music we created Young@Heart in “Road to Heaven” staged by No Theater. The response was phenomenal and the chorus went on to 12 more tours of Europe, Australia and Canada from 1997-2004. We performed “Road to Heaven” at the Lyric Hammersmith in November 2000 with the support of the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT). It was in London that the groundwork was laid for Young@Heart in “Road to Nowhere” stage by No Theater. A consortium of presenters including LIFT, The Rotterdamse Schouwburg, The Hebbel Theater in Berlin, and Brugge 2002 commissioned the new work. The show premiered fall 2004 in the Oude Luxor Theater in Rotterdam presented by the Rotterdamse Schouwburg. “Road to Nowhere” toured to Zurich, Berlin, Dublin, Angers and Strasbourg after a 12-show run in London in 2005. In July 2009 Young@Heart in "End of the Road" by No Theater premiered at the Manchester International Festival in Manchester, England. Young@Heart performed "End of the Road" at the Rotterdamse Schouwburg in Rotterdam, the Netherlands and the Vooruit Theatre in Ghent, Belgium in September 2009. "End of the Road"'s US premier was at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn, New York in April 2010 and we are in working to bring it to Poland in Summer 2011.

Y@H receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Korein Foundation and the City of Northampton.

Alive and Well, the Y@H in concert, features songs from past productions and also allows us to experiment with new music in front of a live audience. We’ve performed Alive and Well on college campuses and clubs in the US and the Glor-Irish Music Centre, Ennis, Ireland; Wilshire Theater, Los Angeles; Capitol Theatre, Salt Lake City; Somerville Theatre, Massachusetts; Beacon Theatre, New York City; Ellington Theater, Washington, D.C; the Newport Folk Festival, the Colonial Theater, Pittsfield, MA, the Barnstable Performing Arts Center and Mechanics Hall in Worcester. Young@Heart is Alive and Well also performed at the Warner Theatre in Washington, DC on December 5, 2009 and the Hatboro-Horsham High School Theater in Horsham, PA, Dec. 6, 2009. Young@Heart toured to Japan and New Zealand in the spring and winter of 2010, in between we toured to up to Canada & upstate NY, went all the way out to Boston and Cape Cod, too. This year, we've already been to New Hampshire and Maine. We'll perform in Connecticut and then return to Worcester this Spring. In the fall, we plan to hit the Mid-Atlantic states.

The 2006 Walker George documentary “Young @ Heart”, originally broadcast on Channel 4 television in the UK, won two Rose d’Or awards, the LA Film Festival Audience Award, screened at Sundance in 2008 and in April 2008 Fox Searchlight released it in North American cinemas. More recently the film has been released in cinemas around the world including the UK, France, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Germany, New Zealand, and Japan. In 2008 the film won the Audience Award at the Sydney Film Festival, the Paris Cinema International Film Festival, Ghent Film Festival, Atlanta Film Festival, Bergen International Film Festival, Warsaw Film Festival and others. The film aired in January 2010 on the PBS series “Independent Lens”.

Y@H released the CD, “Mostly Live” in August 2007. The CD was re-released in the US by Rhino Records in August 2008 and Rhino Records digitally released the film soundtrack the US. A compilation CD of “Mostly Live “ and the film soundtrack is available on line. Young@Heart's Finding the ZEN in senior citizen t-shirts are available on line and at Alive & Well shows, too.

The current performers in Young@Heart range in age from 73 to 89. There are some with prior professional theater or music experience, others who have performed extensively on the amateur level, and some who never stepped onto a stage before turning eighty. None of the current performers of Y@H were part of the original group that formed in 1982, but they have kept alive the spirit of the early pioneers and continue to push the group into glorious new directions.

-Bob Cilman

CHRONOLOGY OF PERFORMANCES

1982

The first meeting@the Walter Salvo House, Northampton, Massachusetts

1983

Stompin’ at the Salvo staged by No Theater@the Walter Salvo House, Northampton, Massachusetts

1984

Boola Boola Bimini Bop@the Northampton Center for the Arts, Northampton, Massachusetts

1985

Forward into the Past staged by No Theater@the Academy of Music Theatre, Northampton, Massachusetts

Purimshpiel the Musical@Congregation B’nai Israel, Northampton, Massachusetts

1986

Seventh Heaven Live Soundtrack@The Baptist Church, Northampton, Massachusetts

1987

Guys and Dolls it Ain’t@the Academy of Music Theater/Greenfield High School & The Forum Theater/Holyoke Community College, Northampton, Greenfield and Holyoke, Massachusetts 

Fifth Year Anniversary Bash@Look Park, Northampton, Massachusetts

1988

Oh No, A Condo@The Academy of Music Theatre, Northampton, Massachusetts

1990

Eddie Kiss Me Goodnight@the Academy of Music Theatre, Northampton, Massachusetts

1991

The Devil in Ms. Main@the Academy of Music Theatre, Northampton, Massachusetts

Appeared as Country Joe and The Fish@Transperformance I Woodstock: The Performance Peace, Pines Theater, Look Park, Florence, Massachusetts

Louis Lou I by No Theater@the Academy of Music Theatre, Northampton, Massachusetts

1992

Tenth Year Anniversary Bash@John M. Greene Hall, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts

Performed In The Wedding Reception@Transperformance II Beyond Karaoke, Pines Theater, Look Park, Florence, Massachusetts

1993

Appeared as The Kingsmen@Transperformance III Dick Clark Look Park, Pines Theater, Look Park, Florence, Massachusetts

1994

Appeared as The Doors@Transperformance IV Rock And Roll Heaven, Pines Theater, Look Park, Florence, Massachusetts

Flaming Saddles@The Academy of Music Theatre, Northampton, Massachusetts

1995

Flaming Saddles, Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts@Academy of Music Theatre, Northampton, Massachusetts

Appeared as The Cast of Hair@Transperformance V Way Off Broadway, Pines Theater, Look Park, Florence, Massachusetts

1996

Appeared as Sons of The Pioneers@Transperformance VI A Night At The Opry, Pines Theater, Look Park, Florence, Massachusetts

1997

Appeared as The Village People@Transperformance VII Tuesday Night Fever, Pines Theater, Look Park, Florence, Massachusetts

Road to Heaven staged by No Theater@R’97 Festival, Theater Lantaren/Venster, Rotterdam, The Netherlands 

Road to Heaven staged by No Theater@Academy of Music Theatre, Northampton Massachusetts

1998

Road to Heaven staged by No Theater@Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts/Forum Theater, Holyoke Community College, Holyoke Massachusetts 

Road to Heaven staged by No Theater@Theater Lantaren/Venster/Rotterdam, The Netherlands; A/D Werf Festival/ Utrecht, the Netherlands; Nieuwpoorttheater/Gent, Belgium

Appeared as Rolling Stones@Transperformance VIII Oy Vegas, Pines Theater, Look Park, Florence, Massachusetts

1999

Road to Heaven staged by No Theater@Nieuwpoorttheater/Gent & Belgian tour to Kortrijk, Brussels & Ieper 

Appeared as Led Zeppelin @Transperformance IX Limeypalooza, Pines Theater, Look Park, Florence, Massachusetts

Road to Heaven staged by No Theater@Theater 14/Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts

Road to Heaven staged by No Theater@Theaterfestival Spielart/Marstall Theater, München, Germany

2000

Road to Heaven staged by No Theater@Hebbel-Theater/Berlin, Germany

Road to Heaven staged by No Theater@Restless Gravity International Performance Festival/Aberystwyth Arts Center, Aberystwyth, Wales & Road to Heaven@London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT)/Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, London, England

Appeared as The Clash@Transperformance X Look Punk, Pines Theater, Look Park, Florence, Massachusetts

2001

Louis Lou I by No Theater, a Revolting Musical@the Forum Theater/ Holyoke Community College

Road to Heaven staged by No Theater@Festpillene i Bergen/Teatergarasjen, Bergen, Norway 

Road to Heaven staged by No Theater@Festival De Théâtre Des Amériques/Salle-Pierre Mercure in Montréal, Québec

Appeared as Randy Newman@Transperformance XI Cali-Faux-Nia Dreaming, Pines Theater, Look Park, Florence, Massachusetts

2002

Road to Heaven staged by No Theater@Brugge2002/ Stadsschouwburg/Brugge, Belgium

Road to Heaven staged by No Theater@Zürcher Theater Spektakel/Werft Halle, Zurich, Switzerland

Appeared as Robert Charlebois/Leonard Cohen/Neil Young@Transperformance XII Oh Canada, Pines Theater, Look Park, Florence, Massachusetts

2003

21st Anniversary Show@Academy of Music Theatre, Northampton, Massachusetts

Road to Heaven staged by No Theater@Melbourne International Festival of the Arts, The Playhouse, Melbourne, Australia

Road to Heaven staged by No Theater@Hawaii Theatre, Honolulu, Hawaii

2004

Y@H in Concert@Springfield College, Springfield, Massachusetts

Road to Heaven staged by No Theater@Concertgebouw for Roularta Media Group’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations, Brugge, Belgium

Y@H in Concert@DeTour DeRoma, DeRoma Theater, Antwerp, Belgium

Road to Heaven & Road to Nowhere staged by No Theater@De (Internationale) Keuze van de Rotterdamse Schouwburg, Oude Luxor Theater, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

2005

Appeared as Velvet Underground/Lou Reed@Transperformance XV New York, Pines Theater, Look Park, Florence, Massachusetts

Road to Nowhere staged by No Theater@Lyric Hammersmith, London, England

2006

Alive & Well@Academy of Music Theatre, Northampton, Massachusetts

Road to Nowhere staged by No Theater@Zurcher Theater Spektakel, Zurich, Switzerland

Road to Nowhere staged by No Theater@De (Internationale) Keuze van de Rotterdamse Schouwburg, Oude Luxor Theater, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Road to Nowhere staged by No Theater@Spielzeiteuropa Berliner Festpiele, Berlin Germany

2007

Alive & Well@Moore Theater Dartmouth College, Dartmouth, New Hampshire

Mostly Live CD Release Party@Iron Horse Music Hall, Northampton, Massachusetts

Alive & Well@Dana Center, St Anselm College, Manchester, New Hampshire

Alive & Well@Chapin Auditorium, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts

New Yorker Festival with David Byrne@Town Hall, New York, New York

Alive & Well with David Byrne@Paris Bar, New York, New York

Road to Nowhere staged by No Theater@Dublin Theatre Festival, Dublin, Ireland

Alive & Well@Glor Irish Music Center, Ennis Ireland

Road to Nowhere staged by No Theater@Theatre LeQuai, Angers, France

Road to Nowhere staged by No Theater@Theatre National de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France

2008

Alive & Well@Chapin Auditorium, Mount Holyoke College, Hadley, Massachusetts

Alive & Well@Wilshire Theater, Los Angeles California

Alive & Well@Newport International Film Festival, Newport, Rhode Island

Alive & Well@Capitol Theater, Salt Lake City, Utah

Alive & Well@Somerville Theater, Boston, Massachusetts

Alive & Well@Beacon Theater, New York, New York

Alive & Well@Academy of Music Theatre, Northampton, Massachusetts

Y@H@Newport International Folk Festival, Newport, Rhode Island

Alive & Well@Ellington Theater, Washington DC

2009

Alive & Well@Colonial Theatre, Pittsfield, MA

End of the Road by No Theater@Manchester International Festival, Manchester, England

Appeared as Jefferson Airplane@Transperformance XIX Woodstock, Pines Theater, Look Park, Florence, Massachusetts

Alive & Well@Barnstable Performing Arts Center, Hyannis, Massachusetts

End of the Road by No Theater@Rotterdamse Schouwburg in the Netherlands and the Vooruit in Ghent, Belgium

Y@H and Friends@Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts

Alive & Well@Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts

Alive & Well@First Presbyterian Church Boulder, Colorado

Alive & Well@Wells Fargo Theatre at the Colorado Convention Center Denver, Colorado

Alive & Well@Warner Theatre, Washington, DC

Alive & Well@Hatboro-Horsham High School Theater, Horsham, Pennsylvania

2010

Alive & Well@Bryant University, Rhode Island

Alive & Well@Japan Tour: Asao Shimin Kaikan and Sumida Triphony Hall, Kobe Kokusai Hall, Kobe; Aichi Prefectural Arts, Nagoya; Orchard Hall, Tokyo

End of the Road by No Theater@St Anne’s Warehouse, Brooklyn, New York

Alive & Well@Paramount Theatre, Springfield, Massachusetts

Alive & Well@Colonial Theatre, Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Alive & Well@Auditorium Theatre, Rochester, New York

Alive & Well@Roy Thompson Hall,Toronto Canada

Alive & Well@Place-des-Arts Salles Willfred Pelletier, Montreal

Alive & Well@The Egg, Albany, New York

Appeared as Talking Heads@Transperformance XX Body Parts, Pines Theater, Look Park, Florence, Massachusetts

Alive & Well@Berklee Performance Center, Boston, Massachusetts

Alive & Well@Barnstable Performing Arts Center, Hyannis, Massachusetts

Alive & Well@Capitol Center for the Arts, Concord, New Hampshire

Alive & Well@New Zealand Tour: Civic Theatre, Auckland; Founders Theatre, Hamilton; Townhall, Christchurch; Michael Fowler Theater, Wellington and Regent Broadway, Palmerston North

2011

Alive & Well@Colonial Theatre, Keene New Hampshire

Alive & Well@Merrill Auditorium, Portland, Maine

Y@H and Friends@John M Greene Hall, Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts

Alive & Well@Bushnell Center for Performing Arts, Hartford, Connecticut

Alive & Well@Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts

End of the Road by No Theater@Malta Festival, Poznan, Poland

Appeared as Elton John@Transperformance XXI Nohobility, Pines Theater, Look Park, Florence, Massachusetts

Alive & Well@Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire

Alive & Well@Flynn Center, Burlington, Vermont

Alive & Well@Garde Arts Center, New London, Connecticut

Alive & Well@State Theatre, New Brunswick, New Jersey

Alive & Well@Warner Theatre, Washington DC

Y@H and Friends@Calvin Theater, Northampton, Massachusetts

Alive & Well and End of the Road@Fuller Arts Center, Springfield College, Springfield, Massachusetts

2012

This is Getting Old@The Red Barn, Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts

This is Getting Old@Zeiterion Performing Arts Center, New Bedford, Connecticut

End of the Road by No Theater@Singapore Arts Festival, Singapore

This is Getting Old@The Bushnell, Belding Theater, Hartford, Connecticut

This is Getting Old@Laurel Park, Northampton, Massachusetts

This is Getting Old@Paramount Theatre, Denver and Chautauqua Auditorium, Boulder, Colorado

This is Getting Old@Japan Tour 2012: Nagoya, Osaka, Kanagawa, Niigata, Tokyo

This is Getting Old@Barnstable Performing Arts Center, Hyannis, Massachusetts

Young@Heart Now & Then 30th Anniversary CD Release Concerts@Academy of Music Theatre, Northampton, Massachusetts

 

FAQ's

How did the Y@H start?
I was offered a job running a meal site for the elderly. It came with health insurance so I took it. I had some wonderful older people in my life, so I was intrigued by the job. After a year or so Judith Sharpe approached me and asked if I could get some people together for a sing along where she would play the piano. That was how it started in 1982.

How do you select the songs for the Y@H?
There are many different ways in which songs get chosen. Often we are trying to match songs with individuals, we listen for lyrics that will be more interesting coming from them. Yes, the chorus members make suggestions, but they aren't as familiar with contemporary music. However, we don't only do contemporary music.

Do you have a songbook or arrangements?
No, we have an amazing band and we make it up as we go along.  One of the best things is to see how songs change as we continue to sing them.

What are some of your favorite songs to perform?
There are currently 30 chorus members and you would probably get 30 different answers to that question. I tend to like the songs we are currently working on because they are stuck in my head.

Have any of the artists you covered been in contact with you?
Yes, David Byrne invited us to join us at a forum on bicycles that he curated for the New Yorker Festival, we performed at the Town Hall and he joined us the next day at the Paris Bar. Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna has been in touch and Sonic Youth put our version of Schizophrenia on their website and we had a joint CD release party with Brave Combo.

How would you describe the Young@Heart Chorus as compared to other choruses?
I wouldn't know where to begin. I think what we do is unique. When you try to describe it, it sounds like a gimmick. I think we have an honest approach to the music and we bring to it the energy needed for Rock and Roll.

What are some of the challenges and rewards in directing seniors?
I think they are similar to working with any group of people on a mission. Our reward is working hard on something and watching it progress. The challenge is making it sound like something you want others to hear.

Do you have advice for people who want to start a similar group?
Don’t try to be like Young@Heart. Find what you are passionate about and make it your own. This is a lot of work, so you should love it. Don’t go into thinking about the concerts and the travel. Think about the work you do on a weekly basis to make it an interesting ensemble.

How would I invite the chorus to perform?
We perform concerts and do theater work. We love performing in schools, community centers, prisons, theaters and concert halls. The chorus enjoys exploring new places and trying new foods. We especially like meeting and making new friends. Check out our booking page.