“For that one hour, it’s just about the music.”
Wander by a small room on the mezzanine at St. Francis House on any Thursday afternoon, and you’ll hear voices singing to the accompaniment of a piano, sometimes a guitar or two and a mix of percussion instruments.
“It’s a big, drop-in jam session with a lot of music from the 70s and 80s— Motown, Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, Tom Petty, Spanish songs for the Spanish-speaking guests and lots of other artists,” explains volunteer Antonia Nedder, a classically trained musician who has been leading the group from her perch at the piano for the past five-and-a-half years. “Every week is different depending on who shows up.”
Sharing the Joy of Music
A lawyer by training who now devotes herself to music full time, Nedder says it’s the happiness in the room that keeps St. Francis House guests coming back. “For that one hour, it’s just about the music,” she says. “Everyone in the room, myself included, forgets about what’s going on in the world and we just share the joy of music.”
While most participants are amateurs, there are several former professionals who bring the sessions to a whole other level. One is a jazz pianist who always plays Nedder’s favorite song, Stevie Wonder’s Ribbon in the Sky, which she happily sings as he takes over the piano. “It lights up the room when he plays. It’s wonderful,” she says. After the weekly jam, Nedder leads a choir practice that attracts a smaller group of guests. The St. Francis House choir has sung at several Moving Ahead Program graduations.
For Nedder, Thursdays at St. Francis House are the highlight of her week. “This is one of the best things I’ve ever done,” says Nedder. “It’s made a huge difference in my life, being able to share music in this way.”
This program was highlighted on NECN on June 23, 2016!