Chimes students sing in public and find friends through music

December 14, 1990|By Ernest F. Imhoff | Ernest F. Imhoff,Evening Sun Staff

FROM SONGS can come love, strength, friendship and hope. From certain songs, like "One Little Candle," comes hope. There was a lot of hope the other day at Chizuk Amuno Congregation.

Two choruses of 32 children, seven of them from the Chimes School for retarded children in Mount Washington, sang the song of hope to more than 100 students and teachers at the Solomon Schechter Day School at the congregation. And they sang it beautifully.

Eight were soloists out front. Miriam Stewart from Schechter's fifth-grade chorus started with "One little candle burning bright." Then Michael Warner from Chimes sang "One little gleam of radiant light."

And so on. Down the line of eight soloists, each sang a line from the song composed by David Cohen, who teaches at both the Chimes School and Schechter. He thought it would be a good idea to have his charges meet, eat and sing together and know someone different. What better meeting ground than music?

Michael, Corey Wedlock, Brenda Fritsch and Christopher Single from Chimes alternated with Schechter's Miriam, Lindsay Levine, Mark Helfman and Michelle Dar--ti in the soloists' row, backed by their choruses in the congregation chapel at 8100 Stevenson Road.

It was the first time in its 20-year history that the Chimes Choir had left its school at 1803 Thornbury Road to sing elsewhere in public. Students at Chimes have mental retardation and other developmental disabilities. The school was started in 1947 near the Church of the Redeemer, whose chimes gave the school its name.

The get-together was a 90-minute affair starting with lunch and continuing in melody. No Baltimore Symphony Orchestra or "Messiah" chorus or Baltimore Opera performances could have better told how music binds people, nurtures them, matures them, gives them new friends and makes people cry for joy.

Watching the musicians with those tight throats and moist eyes were Doris Ashmore, principal; Sidney Tishler, special project director, and Cecil Fox, deputy executive director, all from Chimes, and Margi Hoffman, Middle School head and Dr. Paul Schneider, headmaster, from Schechter.

A regular jolly Pied Piper with the kids, the yarmulkaed Cohen played the guitar and piano in leading the 30-minute recital.

First off, Cohen's Chimes Chorus of seven, ages 15-21, sang four songs. The early Chimes soloists were Sadie Heck, Candy Clark and Paulette Valiquet.

With noticeable ease, the chorus sang "Can't buy Me Love," the Beatles tune; "Put a Little Love in Your Heart"; "Jingle Bell Rock" and "The Song of the Chimes," the school song composed by Cohen with lyrics by teacher Mary Ann Marley and her daughter Pat Connolly. The tune's chorus ends with the lines:

"We celebrate life with all its good times;

"We celebrate life at The Chimes."

Then, the Schechter Fifth Grade Chorus followed with "If I Were a Candle," "My Favorite Times of The Year," "The Barefoot Boy" and the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun."

From "Barefoot Boy" came lines everyone liked:

"The girls all went to heaven,

And the boys all went . . . out west."

Time for the climax. The playful Cohen called up and positioned the eight soloists by singing their names in impromptu melody. For two months, each chorus had separately rehearsed "One Little Candle," music by Cohen, words by Audrey Snyder.

"One little candle burning bright,

One little gleam of radiant light

Shimmering softly in the night

Makes the darkness fade away."

Several verses and choruses later, applause greeted the 32 children. As the audience was leaving, the Schechter children walked by the seated seven Chimes kids like a hockey team and shook each hand one by one.

"Thanks for coming." "Nice concert." "Good to see you."

The Chimes kids beamed and said "Thank you." "It was fun." "Weren't we good?"

They were. They really were.

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