The Eventide Singers: “Bringing joy and comfort to people who are homebound or ill or at the end of their life"
- Written by Jessica Riel
- Published: 05 March 2017
Hear songs of hope and comfort at spring concert in Greenfield on March 26
Many people know the Eventide Singers for their songs of comfort sung to individuals at the end of their lives, but the 25 men and women who form the a cappella group directed by Joe Toritto are volunteers whose mission is to “offer songs of hope and comfort for the ill, homebound, dying, their families, and others who may benefit from the healing gift of music.”
“’Eventide’ – it’s a transition between day and night,” says chorister Marilyn Berthelette, who has been a member for seven years. The Eventide Singers offer songs for people who are experiencing a life change, such as in the home of someone who is bedbound with an illness or at a birthday party for an elder who is turning 90. “The more we know about a person, the better we know what to sing,” says Marilyn.
The Eventide Singers perform all sorts of music, from songs familiar to older adults to upbeat African and gospel music to songs from various religious traditions as well as songs of peace and secular music. They sing in an assortment of languages, too. “Sometimes it helps the patient and the family not to have (familiar) words,” says Therese Fitzsimmons, but to let the music wash over them.
Therese Fitzsimmons has been a member for three years. "Singing with Eventide is just a natural extension of my work with elders as a case manager with LifePath,” says Therese. “Since I enjoy singing, it is something I can do to bring joy and comfort to people who are homebound or ill or at the end of their life."
Marcia Schuhle has been a member for about eight years and has volunteered for the Hospice of Franklin County for the past 25 years. “End of life has been a concern of mine and interest of mine for quite some time.”
Amy Metzler-Clough joined after her father passed away in 2009. He had been receiving hospice care for four months before his death, and Amy cherished the time they spent together. “It was probably one of the most rich and meaningful times of my life.” After seeing an ad in the paper, says Amy, “I went to my first rehearsal and loved it.”
“The easy part was memorizing the music,” says Therese. Blending harmonies is challenging, made more so by the varying numbers of choristers at each sing. Each singer is responsible for memorizing the 60-song repertoire; some read music, but others record the songs at the rehearsals on the first and third Sundays of each month to take home and practice.
The Eventide Singer’s annual concert will take place at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 26, 2017, at the First Congregational Church on Silver Street in Greenfield. Admission is free, and donations will be accepted to benefit the church, which offers its facilities to the Eventide Singers for their rehearsals at no charge.
To request that Eventide sing for someone, you can make a request through the website, www.eventidesingers.com, or by contacting Director Joe Toritto at 413-774-5828. There is no charge for the services.
Those interested in joining the group may contact the director about auditioning.