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Young@Heart Chorus®
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Young@Heart - the power of music

by SIMON SWEETMAN - The Dominion Post
November 05, 2010

Young @ Heart: Bringing an eclectic mix of punk, indie and classic rock songs to the stage, with a different tone.

Young @ Heart: Bringing an eclectic mix of punk, indie and classic rock songs to the stage, with a different tone.

American seniors choir the Young@Heart Chorus, directed by Bob Cilman, was introduced to the world at large with the 2008 hit documentary film, Young @ Heart. The group has been performing since 1982 and travels the globe spreading joy through song.

The starter age for this act is 73 and to assist with the New Zealand tour five Kiwi seniors were selected to fill out the sound. Beginning with a version of The Rolling Stones' You Can't Always Get What You Want, the set list featured seemingly incongruous selections  punk and alternative/indie choices by The Ramones, Morphine and Sonic Youth  as well as classic rock tunes, rendered poignantly with an extra weight added to the lyrics, thanks to age.

Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here featured shots of the band members, when younger. At other times there was a wry laugh (Sonic Youth's Schizophrenia, The Ramones' I Wanna Be Sedated) and sometimes there was laughter and poignancy (Talking Heads' Road to Nowhere). Cilman is the taskmaster driving the choir.

He works them hard, the songs pour from the stage and he is the glue - providing cues, reminding of lyrics, adjusting microphone stands, ushering in the talent.

He does all of this while carrying the body of every song, allowing the music to flow through him, moving non-stop; he is friend and coach, manager and mentor, conduit for the music and nothing short of a saint. What he has done with this group is show that music is a force, the lifeblood.

There was a medley of New Zealand songs featuring Flight of The Conchords' Business Time, Ten Guitars, OMC's How Bizarre with rewritten lyrics reflecting the journey of some of the members of the choir and Poi-E.

From there it was to a version of Don't Dream It's Over and then to two songs that were highlights of the documentary film. Allen Toussaint's Yes We Can and Bob Dylan's Forever Young. Dry eyes were scarce by this point and two full standing ovations told the story of appreciation. It was nice to be reminded of the power of music. It was humbling. It was beautiful. It was real.

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