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A Benefit for Life, Day 92

June 3, 2010

This morning, John Young‘s struggle to live by fighting throat cancer resonated ever louder after having heard the news of a friend’s suicide in Philadelphia. Two extremely talented classical singers, both hurting, with apparently opposing approaches to life. Although I do not know why my other friend chose to die now, I do know countless many will mourn his loss, and I pray his friends and family can find comfort in remembering him more for his best moments, rather than just his final decision.

Sitting in the airport, I don a set of Hearoes earplugs and tune out the world for first a moment of silence for my friend and then for a time of rememberance, to celebrate again last night’s gift of love and music to benefit John Young at Trinity Wall Street Church. As a gifted singer John worked in New York, like so many of us, as a classical soloist an chorister. Without insurance or extra room in his budget, he struggled even to go to the doctor when he first felt pain and experienced hearing loss. Despite a grim initial diagnosis of rare, stage three nasopharyngeal carcinoma (as an under-insured singer, it makes me flinch a little to imagine how that news must have felt), my friend John now has excellent care and a positive prognosis. How? Beautifully empathetic, loving, and generous friends helped to establish a new non-profit organization, first to help John and then other uninsured NYC musicians fighting cancer.

In a genuine show of support, the Trinity Choir, Trinity Baroque Orchestra, conductor Steven Fox, and so many others including staff and security donated their energy, time, and talents toward this truly worthy cause and musically satisfying evening. With ticket options ranging from twenty-five dollars to two hundred fifty and above and a moderately full house, I hope this event provided ample aid for John Young. Doubtless the assistance already received far surpasses his expectations, a sentiment John expressed clearly and gratefully both during the concert and at the reception that followed.

Each vocal soloist and chorister dedicated clear and vibrant text and tone to John and their performance which, appropriate to Trinity’s reputation touched and impressed a thankful and receptive audience. In two of my favorite pieces sung last night, the men of the Trinity Choir blended fully and beautifully while intoning Ralph Vaughan Williams’s arrangement of the Scottish folk song Ca’ the Yowes and especially Gerald Finzi’s Thou Didst Delight My Eyes, Op. 32. Tenors, wow. With a varied program ranging from the 1700s to the twentieth century, the Trinity Baroque Orchestra’s rendition of the Concerto Grosso in D Major, Op. 6, No. 4 of Arcangelo Corelli thrilled me most. Concert master Robert Mealy sensitively played and lead the masterful baroque players in truly one of the most dynamically wide-ranged and playful performances I’d heard in quite some time.

In a final sign of support and solidarity, almost half of the audience joined with the choir when they invited members of the singer community to sing the Mozart Ave Verum Corpus. I personally enjoyed singing it with my colleagues under Steven Fox’s direction, who conducted the entire evening with enthusiasm and intensity. In an overwhelmingly inspired and inspiring concert, I only regretted that more of my colleagues could not attend. If you didn’t have the opportunity, you can still see the event in its entirety on Trinity’s website. If you’d also like to donate to John Young and other musicians, you can give to Young Fighting Cancer Inc. at their website, or via check to:
Young Fighting Cancer Inc.
523 W. 49th St., #4B
New York, NY 10019-7141



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