A serenade for residents of Philadelphia

The musically gifted duo ‘Popup Choir’ has literally shined a light on the residents of Philadelphia by filling their courtyard with Dutch sing-a-longs. The initiative of Serve the City, foundation Present and Burennetwerk is meant to fight the isolation of this vulnerable group of people. And, it’s working; the courtyard of Philadelphia Amsterdam North has seldom seen such a vibrant atmosphere. Resident Fred: ‘My heart breaks, truly, it’s so wonderful!’

On their garden furniture and balconies, the residents gently warm up to the music. Careful at the beginning, but soon their spirit changes to loud and compassioned. ‘All together now!’ urges Tijmen de Koning (guitarist of the band), the crowd. ‘At the canals of Amsterdam, that’s where I’ve lost my heart forever!’

If you sing loud enough, it’s easy to perform a grand show at a (safe) distance, thus proves resident Fred. With his own microphone he steals the show and is a full member of the band. As he points at a girl on a balcony he shouts ‘this one is for my girlfriend Ellie’’! Compared to them Romeo and Juliet are nothing.

Maarten Bos (conductor of Popup Choir) thinks it’s heartwarming. ‘You notice that people first have to get loose, but as soon as that has happened a breeding ground for stories and requests arises. Great to see!’ Normally he and Tijmen play at birthdays or corporate events. Now that’s is no longer possible, they are looking for other ways to delight people with their music. ‘This is the first time that we have voluntarily committed ourselves to a target group like this,’ Tijmen explains, ‘it is fantastic to be able to do this.’

‘Last week, all the current developments were too much for Fred, so he didn’t join the music class’, says Jonas Oomen, music coach and volunteer at Philadelphia. He thinks it is ‘magical’ to see how we have reached Fred and the rest of the residents today. Even the people who didn’t really feel like singing. ‘So gentlemen’, he says to Popup Choir, ‘when can we expect you here again?’

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