Joe and I were catching a supper at the Crepes Tea House in West Springfield, MA after Saturday mass and before meeting friends. We often go to this restaurant for its interesting Russian style menu. I particularly enjoy a non-gluten crepe along with their meals. The farm cheese pancakes are to die for. Their salads are fresh.The soups are wonderful. But tonight was special. Tonight brought unexpected joy. There was a music performance accompanying our supper.

In a world where everything is over-hyped, where our expectations are often not met because the build-up is bigger that the performance, well, this was not the case tonight. Further, our pianist was blind and our singer was also handicapped. But did they deliver? Yes, they delivered in spades. My heart sang watching the wonder of their talents which dwarfed any handicap they have. And they performed with joy and I felt joy as did Joe.

Emily Webster and Franklin Nichols performed thirty-three songs in their repertoire. They attend the Berkshire Hills Music Academy in South Hadley, MA. Berkshire Hills Music Academy offers a post-secondary transition program, as well as a long-term graduate program for young adults with intellectual disabilities. Franklin, the pianist, is a wonderful pianist who also sings along with Emily. Emily has a soft voice with a great deal of rhythm; they both have superb stage presence and clearly loved entertaining to what turned out to be a full house.

The Tea House has the feel of a cafe, is a cafe, and is a perfect setting for the talents of these two entertainers. The Academy also offers a venue with a selection of entertainment. It has a number of talented musicians available to perform for special events, including their Performance Troupe, Jazz Quartet, LIVE Band, small group ensembles, and individual performers. Musical styles are wide and varied, and include Rock & Roll, Rhythm & Blues, Pop Rock, Peruvian, Show Tunes/Broadway, Children’s Music, Holiday Music and more!

Wonder comes when least expected. I was filled with wonder, not surprise, but wonder. In a world of selfies, the duo entertaining us this evening were about performance and giving joy.

Art does prevail. The artist is never really disabled when he or she brings joy.

K. B. Pellegrino

 

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