It was a junk filled day at Queen of Peace Nursing Home, Queens Village. Children from Holy Child Jesus parish, Richmond Hill, brought their musical talents to Queen of Peace and performed a Jazz ensemble for the residents and the Little Sisters of the Poor who care for them.
The children, who all attend Holy Child Jesus Academy, are part of Junk Music, a Jazz ensemble. The name comes from the styles of music of Funk and Jazz.
“The mission is to go to people who can’t come to us,” said Director Gennaro Filosa.
He started the group a year ago. Although Filosa has been performing for over 50 years, he does not read music. He feels it. That is what he wants to bring to the children.
“I don’t teach them how to sing, I bring music to them,” Filosa said.
At Queen of Peace, the children sang their versions of tunes that were meant to bring back good memories. The line up included, “Blue Skies” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
“I think it’s terrific because it is good medicine to hear music,” said Esme Vitucci. “It’s our pleasure to be entertained and it brings us back to our good old days.”
At the end of the performance Filosa said it was he who was grateful to the residents.
“Thank you, because what you do for us is what we thrive on, you listen to us,” he said. He thanked one resident in particular, the priest from his former parish, St. Patrick’s in Fort Greene. He recounted how it was Msgr. William Rodgers who helped him make his audition mixtape, back when Filosa was still in school, by allowing him to record in the church.
Msgr. Rodgers said he was happy to see what his old parishioner was up to these days.
“I thought that it was excellent that the adults bring the children together in a spirit of friendship and camaraderie,” he said.
That is what Lena Hundertmark, 14, was hoping her audience would take away from the performance. “I want them to experience this,” she said. “Not only how we sing, but how we bond together.
”She said she enjoys being part of the group. “I love to sing,” she said. “This helps me sing differently, in a way I didn’t think I would.”
Sarah Filosa, 12, the director’s daughter, said she has fun working with her dad and making new friends. The group has also helped her get through stage fright.
“I always get really nervous,” she said. “But when I start singing, I don’t feel nervous.”
Ryan Curran, 11, said he tried to join different music groups but did not find quite the right fit until he began to sing with Junk Music.
“I just love it so much,” he said.
His mother said Ryan was born hearing impaired which has caused some problems with educators in the past. But she said, Holy Child Jesus and Junk Music has helped him open up and thrive.
Heather Dunn, the mother of Emma Alpiner, 10, said she was happy to drive her daughter to Queen of Peace.
“She is very interested in music. She is in all the music programs at Holy Child,” Dunn said. Being here “gives her a sense of giving back to the community.”
Father Christopher Heanue, administrator of Holy Child Jesus, said the group truly embodies the spirit of ministry. He said the children have sung in parish and academy functions over the past year and have begun to visit those who are homebound.
Gennaro Filosa said he hopes this is just the beginning. He has already visited individual homebound parishioners to sing for them himself, but soon he hopes to bring children from the group with him. He also hopes that he can help start groups in other parishes and schools.
It’s these grand plans and his lack of classical musical training that makes him grateful to Paul Cerni, who works in the parish and is part of various bands, and acts as deputy director.