BY ANGELA MATUA
Life’s WORC, a nonprofit organization in Garden City that provides services to individuals with developmental disabilities, will be hosting its sixth annual “Life’s Connections Through Music” concert at Molloy College on Saturday, May 20.
The concert, which takes place at 7:30 p.m. in the college’s Madison Theater, will feature 13 performers who will sing, play instruments and perform as an ensemble.
Edmund O’Donnell, vice chairman of the board of directors, became involved with the organization more than 12 years ago and has made it his mission to fill the 500 seats at Madison Theater.
“This is really a cutting-edge program,” O’Donnell said. “I just find it to be a very inspirational type of a program because it really showcases how the people we serve, the developmentally disabled, how they really are thriving under our care.”
Tina Miller, artistic director and creator of the concert, conceptualized the showcase to fulfill two major goals.
“One, it’s for communities to see our individuals as to what their capabilities are rather than what their challenges are, because we all have challenges,” Miller said. “The second thing is, we want individuals who have a passion and skill with music to make friendships based on that interest, not their diagnoses.”
Life’s WORC holds auditions, where interested participants ages 18 to 65 sing or play an instrument in front of a panel of professionals. Once the performers are chosen, usually 12 to 15 individuals, they receive mentorship.
Each performer will meet with a professional musician for four hours, once a week. After 12 weeks, the performers showcase their pieces in front of an audience.
Miller said the performers not only receive the opportunity to work with professionals, but they also meet a myriad of people from different boroughs, counties, agencies and communities.
“My favorite part is seeing between 12 to 15 strangers who all have the love of music and within 12 weeks become a musical family,” Miller said. “There is that brotherhood [and] sisterhood based on a love of music, not because they have a specific diagnoses [or] affiliation with a particular agency.”
The concert will feature performers who sing or play the drums, guitar, violin and more. Pieces will range from songs such as “Amazing Grace” to “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath.
The ensemble will close out the show with two pieces meant to honor their parents and a Life’s WORC employee, Steve Gonzalez, who passed away in the fall.
“Superheroes” by Irish band The Script and “Rock N’ Roll Heaven” by The Righteous Brothers will enable the performers to work as a team and these song choices are part of the reason why the showcase will be so enjoyable, according to Miller.
“It’s such a great concert because it has such a wide array of music styles as well as musicianship,” Miller said. “It’s so diverse. It’s an evening that everyone can enjoy, from children all the way to the elderly.”
Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 516-741-9000 ext. 588.