Young@Heart Chorus

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Young@Heart (also Young@Heart Chorus) is an entertainment group created by and for the elderly, comprised at present of people at least 70 years of age. Some have prior professional theater or music experience, others have performed at amateur level, and some have no experience whatsoever. They are particularly noted for their unconventional covers of rock, punk, and other modern pop music songs. [1]

Founded in 1982 in Northampton, Massachusetts by Bob Cilman, the members all lived in an elderly housing project, The Walter Salvo House. The first group included elders who lived through both World Wars. One had fought in the Battle of the Somme as a 16-year-old and another, Anna Main, a stand-up comic, lost her husband in the First World War. Main stayed with the group until she was 100 years old. Diamond Lillian Aubrey who performed with the first two European tours performed Manfred Mann's "Doo Wah Diddy". In later years she appeared "on stage" via video, performing the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want".[2]

In early 1984 Eileen Hall, Warren Clark, and Ralph Intorcio joined the group. Warren and Ralph did female impersonations. Warren took on the persona of Sophie Tucker and Ralph did a send-up of Carol Channing's "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend". Eileen, originally from London brought an array of different routines, including strip, mime and the song "Nobody Loves a Fairy When She's ...Ninety". They joined with a group of Latino breakdancers from a local housing project. The result was Boola Boola Bimini Bop. These two shows were the first of many collaborations created with different arts groups in town. A few others included "Oh No a Condo" in 1988, with Cambodian folk artists and punk rockers; in 1991 “Louis Lou I – A Revolting Musical”, a re-telling of the French Revolution using Frank Sinatra's songs. In 1994 they created "Flaming Saddles" alongside the Pioneer Valley Gay Men's Chorus.

In 1996 Young@Heart's chorus performed in Rotterdam and did twelve more tours in Europe, Australia and Canada between 1997 and 2004.[3]

The first documentary film about the Young@Heart chorus, Forever Young at Heart, premiered at the Northampton Film Festival in Northampton, MA—the group's hometown—in 2000. Produced by Barbara Allen of Wildrose Productions, the film chronicled the early years of the chorus.[4]

A documentary film about the chorus appeared on Britain's Channel 4 in 2007. A feature-length version of the documentary was released in April 2008 by Fox Searchlight Pictures.[5]

Group member Fred Knittle, who sang Coldplay's Fix You in the film and was a frequent source of comic relief, died January 1, 2009, after a short battle with cancer. He was 83.[6]

Bob Cilman currently directs the chorus. His two daughters, Stella and Eva Cilman, attended Reed College and live in Portland, OR.


  1. ^ Dye, David (2008-04-17). "Young@Heart: 80-Year-Olds Rock Out". World Cafe. NPR. Retrieved 2009-01-30. 
  2. ^ Cilman, Bob. "Young@Heart Chorus: Our Story". Retrieved January 30, 2009. 
  3. ^ Morales, Tatiana (April 16, 2005). "Rockin' With Young@Heart Chorus: From The Mouths Of Elderly, Outkast Tunes". The Early Show. CBS News. Retrieved January 30, 2009. 
  4. ^ Allen, Barbara (2012). "Forever Young at Heart Chorus DVD movie". Forever Young at Heart Chorus DVD website. Wildrose Productions. Retrieved June 24, 2013. 
  5. ^ Berman, John; Arons, Melinda (April 9, 2008). "Young at Heart Chorus: 'They Don't Expect Us to Sing Rock'". Nightline. ABC News. Retrieved January 30, 2009. 
  6. ^ Breznican, Anthony (January 1, 2009). "'Young@Heart' singer dies at age 83". USA Today. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 

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