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  • Carolyn Gauthier

Fearless Harmony by San Domenico Advanced Vocal Ensemble at Atria Tamalpais

An appreciative group of seniors at Atria Tamalpais Creek, a senior living facility in Novato, were treated recently to the musical magic of a largely a capella group of eleven talented teenage girls from San Domenico School in San Anselmo. The Advanced Vocal Ensemble (known as AVE and pronounced like Ave Maria) is from the middle school. The poise of these girls belies their age (12 and 13.) Several of them sang solos with the others backing them up, and one young lady sang an original song, accompanying herself on piano.

They started the program with an African song which moved into "Yellow Bird" and ended with "Freedom" by Beyonce. The repertoire included contemporary music by Bruno Mars and Motown classics such as "Stop in the Name of Love" by The Supremes. As different soloists stepped out, the other singers encouraged them with smiles and applause. The audience kept growing as some staff members came running to listen. An activities coordinator said, “They are phenomenal! So young to have such strong voices! The residents who are here loved it and will be talking about it for weeks.”

The performance was made extra special by the fact that one of the girls in the group, Jasmine Harris, is the granddaughter of Joan Baez and niece to our late founder Mimi Fariña. Her father Gabe Harris, who is also a volunteer for Bread & Roses Presents, was at the show. The family resemblance is striking, and we are blessed to have three generations of talent in our roster of volunteers.

The director of the group Lilan Kane, an accomplished jazz singer in her own right, gave an indepth testimonial about the experience on her Facebook page. We have included her text below as it expresses the essence of what Bread & Roses hopes for in each of the shows that we produce.

"I'm so incredibly proud of my Advanced Vocal Ensemble singers. I was almost brought to tears by the fearlessness, generosity and support I saw my group exhibit towards each other and to the guests. Beautiful harmony and camaraderie filled the room, so soulful and interactive. They really impressed me! I saw the most beautiful rays of light connecting between the various generations in the room.

It's very important to be grounded and to stay humble. That's why performances like these are so important, away from their peers and people they know. We talk about this a lot in class, and they fully embodied these traits. They were mentally ready, they worked together, they were spontaneous and authentic. Not to mention they crushed it and sounded amazing, and looked like they were having a blast.

I encouraged them to go up and introduce themselves to some of the residents and ask about their lives. I did the same as I noticed them engaging with the guests, interested and intrigued. All the extra hours and energy they put in are so worth it, and pretty much essential to my well being and keeping me grounded.

A huge thank you to Bread & Roses Presents for making this happen. And a big congrats to my group for a stellar performance."

The singers were touched and humbled by the performance as well. One student shares her experience after the show about how it felt to give back. We hope these talented young performers share their music with Bread & Roses audiences again soon!

Post by Carolyn Gauthier

Photos by Peter Merts

1) San Domenico AVE performers

2) Performers greet audience at Atria Tamalpais

4) Gabe Harris with daughter Jasmine Harris (on right) with family members of other performers

5) Music Director Lilan Kane (second from left) with performers

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