PBS’s Independent Lens takes a closer look at Young@Heart
On Wednesday night in the Appleton Auditorium it was proved that age is but a number. The air was filled with youthful energy as the Young@Heart Chorus entertained a lively crowd of all ages.
Young@Heart is a group of about two dozen singers with an average age of 80. The choral group performs rock and roll of all time periods—even including contemporary songs. Young@Heart is marked by incredible compassion and backed by a band that has a variety of instruments at its disposal. The near capacity crowd had the pleasure of hearing the sounds of the cello, saxophone, keyboard, ukulele, accordion and harmonica in addition to the electric guitar, bass, and drums—the traditional rock instruments.
Admission to the concert was free, but required a ticket to gain entrance due to the popularity of the chorus, which is world renown and has had performances in New York City, Japan, and even New Zealand.
From start to finish, there was no let down in energy from the elderly singers. In fact, the group was even more energetic after intermission; they spent the remainder of the show on their feet, dancing, swaying and clapping along to the beat.
“The band gives them a lot of energy. They have a lot of energy already. Sometimes they don’t know how much energy they really have,” said director Bob Cilman.
It could be said that the singers find inspiration in Cilman’s enthusiasm. Throughout the show, he directed the group while singing along; he even busted out an impressive harmonica solo.
The performance displayed impressive harmonies and powerful voices. Many of the members of the chorus got individual chances to shine, taking the lead role on a song while the chorus intensified end notes and refrains. “The trick is finding the right song for the right people. Every person out there is a bit of a personality,” Cilman remarks.
Ecstatic applause followed the completion of every song. The wide array of music included classics such as “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5 and contemporary hits such as “Snow (Hey Oh)” by Red Hot Chili Peppers.
As proven by Young@Heart, it is possible to be forever young. From the performers and the audience alike, there were youthful smiles all around.