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Cohen's Alzheimer's Stories Gains Momentum

Four Performances of Oratorio About the Disease Planned For Fall 2012
These are the pieces of a life recalled: Alzheimer's Stories, American composer Robert Cohen's musical attempt to piece together life histories broken by Alzheimer's Disease, continues to gain traction among choirs and audiences, with numerous performances scheduled for 2012.

Premiered in 2009 by the Susquehanna Valley Chorale of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, the text by Herschel Garfein (Elmer Gantry) is firmly rooted in the community that produced the work, and in fact was written in part by interweaving the memories of local Alzheimer's sufferers and their loved ones.

But Cohen's large-scale oratorio, with orchestral or piano accompaniment, has since been revived around the U.S. This spring saw performances by Nebraska's Wayne State College and the Angeles Chorale of Pasadena, California (whose director discusses the work here, and fall performances have been scheduled by the Pittsburgh Bach Choir (Oct. 13 and 14), the Chamber Choir of Grand Rapids (Oct. 28), and the Choral Arts Society of Cleveland (October, date TBD). The Minnesota Chorale has also programmed the third movement, For the Caregivers, for an upcoming concert.

Alzheimer's Stories communicates the fear and sorrow wrought by the disease, but also offers a small measure of hope: Love and music, concludes Garfein's libretto, are the last things to go.

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