For soloists, chorus & large ensemble. A commission from the Susquehanna Valley Chorale and in collaboration with 2012 Grammy Award winning opera librettist Herschel Garfein (Elmer Gantry) is based on recollections of chorus members and friends with relatives who've had the dreaded disease.
The work is in three movements the arc of which loosely mimics the progression of the disease:
I. The Numbers – an objective description of the discovery of the disease by Dr. Alois Alzheimer in 1901 including the number of individuals currently afflicted, future projections and dramatized conversations between Dr. Alzheimer and his first patient, Auguste Dieter. The movement ends with an extended setting of a quote from his patient Ich hab mich verloren, "I have lost myself."
II. The Stories – a pastiche of a number of selected stories taken from the choir's blog. With a mixture of pathos, poignancy and humor, we meet a number of individuals afflicted with the disease, portrayed by the two soloists, as well as the recollections of family members. Two notables: a woman who still thinks she's on a boat to Panama with her father; and a WWII Navy veteran who repeats the same bawdy story of the war so many times that the chorus can recite it by heart.
III. For the Caregivers – The most difficult part of writing a work about such a terrible and ultimately hopeless disease was how to end the work with some semblance of hope. The clue came in a recollection by one of the chorus members about a visit to a nursing home where a patient asked them to sing. When asked what, the patient replied: "Sing anything." First referenced in the second movement, this idea became the centerpiece and focus of the last movement. The core of the brilliantly realized libretto is as follows:
Find those you love in the dark and light. Help them through the days and nights.
Keep faith. They sense what they cannot show. Love and music are the last things to go. Sing anything.
What critics have to say about Alzheimer's Stories:
"One of the greatest achievements a work of art can hope to reach is to bring us to our darkest places and show us a light. To illuminate our fears, ease our anxieties, and heal our pain. Whether or not you've struggled with this disease personally or as a caregiver, this is what makes Alzheimer's Stories a truly special experience." – Kody Wallace, Choral Journal (Oct. 2018)
"At times somber, jaunty and inspirational, this earnest exploration of a difficult theme, conducted with great insight by Anna Hamre, connected on both a cerebral and emotional level."
– The Fresno Bee
"Best Arts 2015" (Dec. 26, 2015) "In terms of getting the message out about this debilitating and devastating disease in a heartfelt and meaningful way through music, this reading of Cohen's innovative work could be deemed a total success." – Guytano Parks, Cleveland Classical (Nov. 18, 2012)
According to recent data provided by the Texas Department of State Health Services, these are the most recent statistics on the disease.
Approximately 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease (AD). Unless a cure or prevention is found, that number will increase to between 11 and 16 million by 2050.
Alzheimer's affects up to 10 percent of people 65 and over and increasing to 50 percent at 85 and older.
Direct and indirect costs of AD and other dementias amount to more than $172 billion annually.
Almost 11 million Americans are caring for a person with Alzheimer's disease or another dementia; in Texas, approximately 900,000 unpaid caregivers are providing care to the 340,000 individuals with the disease — this equates to 971 million hours of unpaid care at a cost of 11.1 billion dollars per year.
Texas ranks third in the number of Alzheimer's disease cases and second in the number of AD deaths.
A new person develops Alzheimer's disease every seventy seconds — this is projected to increase to every 33 seconds by 2050.
Between 2000 and 2006, deaths due to heart disease, stroke, and prostate cancer declined by 12 percent, 18 percent, and 14 percent, respectively, whereas deaths attributable to Alzheimer's disease increased by 47 percent.