English Translation (Read article in Cantonese here)
Music is a universal language that can affect our emotions. A non-profit organization is working with social service groups in Chinatown to bring free music to the seniors on a regular basis. The musicians will even go to the homebound elderly's homes to perform for them.
On a Monday afternoon, three performers from the group performed for a group of 30 elderly people at the recreation center of Visiting Nurse Service of New York on Mott Street. The musicians played popular Chinese folk songs that were well received by the audience as they gave a big applause after the show.
The three musicians are working with "Concerts in Motion," the organization that invite musicians to perform for the community. This mini-concert was only one of the many performances they gave. The Founder of "Concerts in Motion" Jennifer Finn said their target audience mainly is people who are being isolated in the society, including homebound seniors. She said they have about 1,000 performances every year in which about 75 percent of the performance is at private homes.
They also work with numerous social service groups in Chinatown, including VNSNY's Chinatown Neighborhood Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NNORC). Director Helen Sit explained that homebound seniors often have weak social network. It is also hard for their family members to offer support as they need to work during the day. Bringing music to the seniors, Sit hopes, can help the seniors reach out to the outside world and realize they also deserve the right to enjoy music. "This is a real live performance. I always said this is bringing Lincoln Center's concert hall to Chinatown's homes," Sit said. "Neighbors living next door also came out to enjoy the music. The event can help forge a closer relationship with their neighbors. This is good for seniors who are living alone."
Currently, there are about 300 musicians working with "Concerts in Motion," 10 of them can play Chinese instruments. One of them is Wai-Young Lim. He started joining the program last summer. Lim said he often performs in concert halls facing an audience ranging from 20 people to more than a thousand. Performing to only one person, he said, is a special experience. "You can see closely their direct reactions to the songs," he said. "It's like meeting new friends."
As a singer herself, Finn also said this kind of performance is a "win-win" to both the audience and musicians. "In a private setting, it's more about being yourself," she said. "It's a visit and also a sharing."