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RSVP: “Life Songs” Without Reservation

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A remarkable choral collaboration occurred Friday evening.

The very talented singers of the Reconciliation Singers Voices of Peace presented an evening of beautiful music in support of Music Partners in Healthcare. They were joined by the Cantus choir of the Sacramento Children’s Chorus.

The program was varied and carefully chosen, and the recently restored sanctuary of St. John’s Lutheran Church was a splendid venue for the tonal clarity and delicate harmonies of the beautiful music.

Throughout the program, the audience sat spellbound as the healing and uplifting power of music was revealed.

Artistic director Lynn Stevens led her chorus of fifth- through ninth-grade singers through a lovely set of five pieces, including the haunting 19th century ballad of “Annie Laurie” by Lady John Scott and a rousing tongue-twister, “Peter Piper” by Lon Beery.

The 16 voices of RSVP captured the sense of connection among all Earth’s creatures in their first two selections: Mack Wilberg’s “Wonder” and “Earth Song” by Frank Ticheli. Their program continued with music from a variety of genres, including folk songs, spirituals, doo-wop and jazz, and a beautifully silky version of Mercer and Mancini’s “Moon River.” All of RSVP’s music is sung a cappella, and their beautiful harmonies are precise and exquisite.

These songs were the framework for the presentations of Aileen Kelly and Elizabeth Wendt, founders of Music Partners in Healthcare, a nonprofit organization which brings music to the bedsides of critically ill patients in a number of area hospitals and other health care settings.

Kelly and Wendt explained their program and the general role of certified music practitioners in providing patients with comfort, support and the healing energy of live music. Both women are accomplished harpists. They each played and sang some of the music they have used in their work with premature infants, the critically ill and injured and individuals approaching death.

The audience and RSVP sang along with Wendt’s renditions of “You Are My Sunshine” and “Edelweiss,” as her Alzheimer’s patients have often done.

The final triumphant song, “The Voice” by Brendan Graham, included RSVP, the Sacramento Children’s Chorus and instrumental accompaniment and was rewarded with a standing ovation.

The concert was delightful in itself. The program was repeated on four evenings and in three locations, and all proceeds were directly contributed to the Music Partners in Healthcare.

This is the truly inspiring part of the story: RSVP sings beautifully and has been doing so for 12 years. Founder and director Julie Adams, is an accomplished musician and vocal teacher who created RSVP specifically to make a positive difference in our communities.

RSVP performs a wide variety of music and has done so in support of some 24 deserving charities and programs in the area. The musicians all volunteer their time to provide music for the benefit of organizations which promote peace, education, family support, disaster relief, services for seniors and children, the homeless and health.

The group has also produced three CDs, two of which were recorded at St. John’s, which they offer for sale through their website.

RSVP is a community resource that clearly demonstrates that the individual efforts of a few can make a huge difference in the lives of many. The group certainly deserves a wide audience both for their musical talent and for their dedication to improving our world one song at a time.

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