APRIL 2018
Jennifer Crusco
Communications Assistant

Musicians Bring Eclectic Program to Spectrum in Closter

Demarest, NJ: Several members of the Tri-M Music Honor Society at the Academy of the Holy Angels took time out of their April break to perform for the residents at the Spectrum Intermediate Care Facility in Closter. The program was spearheaded by River Vale resident Maya Sharma, who helped organize a 2017 concert at another Spectrum residence.

“After hearing great feedback from both the residents and the Tri-M Music Honors Society performers regarding last year's concert, I decided to begin arranging for more performances for the Spectrum community,” Sharma explained.

She began by consulting with Tri-M Chapter 2150 Adviser and AHA Instrumental Music Director Mariann Annecchino, Tri-M members, and Spectrum Volunteer Director Kerry McConway.

Sharma has been a Spectrum volunteer for over three years. The Sharma Sisters Duo, which includes Maya on violin and her sister, Jaya, on the piano, has performed at Spectrum locations in River Vale, Teaneck, Westwood, and Hillsdale. McConway was enthusiastic about Maya’s latest proposal, and they soon arranged a concert date. Maya even traveled to the site to check the sound system and ensure that the piano was in tune.

“I was so grateful that so many girls were willing to volunteer their own break time to this concert!” Sharma added.

Volunteers included Aprile Bertomo, who sang “Can't Help Falling in Love with You.” The Sharmas presented the theme from “Beauty and the Beast” and “Swan.” Hannah and Grace Velarde, another “sister act,” performed “Memory,” with Hannah on piano and Grace on the saxophone. Grace also played “Amazing Grace,” and Hannah played “Send in the Clowns.”

Pianist Olivia Hagopian presented “Ballade” by Friedrich Burgmuller and “Overcome” by David Nevue. Maya and her fellow violinist Maria Guyre teamed up to play “Rondeau” and “Kanon,” and Guyre and Hanora Chapman played “A Thousand Years” on violin and piano, respectively.

Chapman also sang “Popular” from the musical “Wicked,” and played the trumpet as part of a jazz ensemble. Tri-M jazz players also included Jaya Sharma on the piano and Timea Papp and Grace Velarde on the saxophone. They presented “Moondance” and “Harlem Nocturne.” 

“We are blessed with a very active Tri-M chapter. They know the power of music and they love reaching out,” Annecchino stated. “Leadership, organization, management, and public relations are some of the skills our Tri-M members develop when they plan and execute these musical outreaches. These girls have demonstrated great maturity and commitment with no expectations of accolades or awards, just the personal reward of seeing and experiencing the joy music brings to other human beings. I am very proud of them and consider it a privilege to work with them!”

Maya explained that her family values service to others. This positive perspective has allowed Maya to enjoy her community outreach, rather than view it as an obligation.

“As a performer, I put my worries aside when I am playing and enjoy the moment,” she noted.

Asked about her drive to bring music to others, Maya shared Longfellow’s quote about music being the universal language of mankind. She finds that music is a unifying and uplifting force with positive effects that are visible in the faces of the audience members.

“Even for individuals with developmental disabilities like those at Spectrum, music allows for understanding of sentiments communicated through the notes rather than words that they sometimes have difficulty understanding.

“Like with all our performances for them, the residents and staff (at the latest event) were beyond welcoming and appreciative,” Maya added. “It was incredibly encouraging to watch the residents clap, dance, and sing along with each of our performers. After the performances, several of the residents even asked us to join them at their weekly karaoke nights!”

Short for Modern Music Masters, Tri-M is a national organization that recognizes student musicians for their musical skills, scholarship, character, leadership, and service.

Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious high school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.


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