Hospital Choir Prepares to Perform With Boston Pops

The sounds of the season echo through Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston's Charlestown neighborhood as a choir prepares to bring Christmas cheer to patients who won't be able to go home for the holidays.

The Spaulding Tabernacle Choir will perform with the Boston Pops at the hospital on Dec. 18.

Some of these sopranos are also staff members at Spaulding, and at least one alto is a former patient and stroke survivor.

"I love to sing and I love Christmas in general," said nurse Joan Jennings. "It just fills my heart with joy."

"When I had my stroke, I couldn't say the word 'musician,'" said former Spaulding stroke patient Jane Stachowiak.

The choral director, Dr. Randie Black-Schaffer, runs the hospital's stroke program.

"For a number of years, we would go around to the floors in mid-December and sing to the patients," said Black-Schaffer.

The group still sings bedside Christmas carols, but thanks to a former patient who is a professional percussionist, they are now joined annually by the prestigious Boston Pops.

"To be with Keith Lockhart right beside you conducting, that's a real thrill," said Jennings.

This group of physicians, nurses, staff and even patients practice together just a few times on their lunch hour before the big concert with the Boston Pops.

"We like to make people feel better, that's what we do," said Jennings.

Black-Schaffer says that's the Spaulding Tabernacle Choir's ultimate goal.

"There are several different areas where music therapy can help neurologically, but it certainly also helps emotionally," he said.

Stachowiak says she is living proof of that.

"They have enhanced my life quite a bit," said Stachowiak. "Music is magical." 

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