Conversations on Aging ~ Priscilla Essert

Priscilla Essert


The universal language – live and in concert

Posted on April 10, 2019 by Priscilla Essert

As many already know, Vintage House recently conducted a survey of its members, non-members that engage with Vintage House, and community members age 55+ who have no affiliation with the organization. The final report will be delivered by the researchers at the end of April, but the primary findings already provide a clear indication of what survey-takers want more of from Vintage House: food, lifelong learning, and music.

Programs supporting lifelong learning and food are already in place (and we are seeking funding to expand them), but live music seems to have left the building over the past few years. Yes, we have music classes, but very few live performances.

Twist my arm; I can’t resist this challenge. As a professional musician who spent 30 years performing and teaching, I have witnessed first hand the impact that live music has on people. In particular, I could wax on about the benefits of live performance with older adults but I would rather focus on the benefits to people of all ages, as live music presents an intergenerational opportunity. Music is a universal language and a creative form of expression that can break down barriers (including age barriers), stimulate meaningful conversation and emotional experiences, and help inspire connection.

Research has shown that attending a cultural event can have an impact on the endocrine activity, reducing stress. A study conducted by Fanacourt and Williamon took 117 volunteers to two concerts showcasing choral music. The volunteers had their stress hormones level tested with a saliva sample before each performance, and then 60 minutes later during intermission. The team found that, across the board, levels of the stress hormones cortisol and cortisone had decreased during both concerts.

As a performer and an advocate of live music, I am not surprised by these findings. With a commitment to bring live music back to Vintage House, a few weeks ago I met with Janice King, the head of the Sonoma Valley Jazz Society. You may know the Jazz Society from their concerts at the Tuesday Farmers Market, its Concerts in the Barn series, or the shows it presented years back at Vintage House. In fact, I attended one of their concerts at Vintage House long before I was 55 or knew that I would one day be the organization’s executive director.

Janice and I quickly came up with the idea of co-presenting a concert at Vintage House, and we agreed that the first musician we wanted to invite to perform is the amazing Carlos Reyes.

It just felt right, the stars aligned, and I am thrilled to announce that Carlos Reyes will be performing live at Vintage House on Sunday, April 14, at 3 p.m.

I am excited to be bringing a world-class musical performer to our community, and I hope this will be the first of many wonderful collaborations with the Sonoma Valley Jazz Society and the beginning of a series of live concerts at Vintage House. I invite you to come connect, explore, and belong. That’s what we are all about at Vintage House. Viva live music!!

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