Rocky River Community Chorus Fills Ames with Happy Sounds


The sound of music filled the Ames Family Hospice House on June 1, fueled by almost 60 members of the Rocky River Community Chorus.

Under the direction of Emily Ortolano, the chorus, now in its 37th year, entertained staff, patients and their loved ones with an array of songs spanning from Broadway tunes to patriotic and contemporary songs.  

Each season the chorus selects a theme and this year’s, “Get Happy,” meant that all the songs performed had the word “happy” in the titles.  

The philanthropic group of men and women, aged 20 and up, often plays at nursing homes. This year marks the second time that the chorus played at the Ames Family Hospice House. They also performed at the dedication of the house’s grand piano in 2013.  

The beautiful Yamaha grand piano was paid for in part by a grant from the Kulas Foundation and through a campaign to raise funds from volunteers led by Don Stark, a baritone who has performed with the Chorus for eight years.  

Stark is also a volunteer with Hospice of the Western Reserve and led a campaign to have volunteers donate funds for the grand piano.  

The piano was again part of the performance, with a pianist accompanying the group on songs.  

­­­­­­­The event was special for Ortolano, whose grandfather received hospice care in Pennsylvania last year. Celebrating her 10th year as the director of the Rocky River Community Chorus, she saw the concert as her way of giving back.  

“One of my favorite parts is seeing the audience’s reaction,” she said. “It’s great to see the smiles on the faces.”  

Stark said one of the nicest things about hosting a concert at Ames is that the music resonates throughout the location allowing patients who are room bound and their visitors to enjoy the sounds.

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