Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: No Singing the Blues

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

No Singing the Blues

The following is an article I received from our dear family friends in Iowa. Thank you so much!

No Singing the Blues

By Fred Love
The Gazette

Article published: Jun 10, 2007

CEDAR RAPIDS Several audience members wept as Gloria Lenhoff sang a selection from the operatic masterpiece “La Boheme.”

A few minutes later, with an accordion on her lap, she wowed the spectators again with her take on Elvis Presley's rockabilly classic, “Blue Suede Shoes.”

Gloria, 52, a renowned classical singer with a repertoire of thousands of songs, has Williams syndrome, a rare genetic condition that causes severe mental disability.

She has an IQ of 55, a crystal-clear voice and charismatic warmth - a combination that stunned a nearly full lecture hall at Coe College's Hickok Hall on Saturday.

Howard Lenhoff, Gloria's father, explained between songs that many who have Williams syndrome possess extraordinary musical abilities.

To prove his point, Carol Malerich, 13, of Marion, who also has Williams syndrome, took the stage to give a solo piano performance. Carol has taken classical piano lessons since she was 3 and learns all the songs she knows by ear, said Leah Malerich, Carol's mother.

The Lenhoffs visited Coe as part of the college's annual alumni reunion held every June.

Howard Lenhoff, who received a chemistry degree from Coe in 1950, is a professor emeritus of biology at the University of California, Irvine, and an adjunct professor at the University of Mississippi.

The author or editor of 13 books, including “The Strangest Song: One Father's Quest to Help His Daughter Find Her Voice,” Lenhoff and two others were to be presented with Coe's Alumni Award of Merit last night.

Lenhoff said he encouraged Gloria to focus on music, where she knows she can excel, rather than focus on areas where her disability would hamper her.

“Take the positive things and get training in that and do it,” he said. “Don't try to be a jack of all trades.”

Gloria Lenhoff has taken professional voice lessons since she was 11, and she first picked up an accordion at age 12.

Since then, she has performed as a guest artist with the Los Angeles Opera and the Boston Lyric Opera and continues to perform at Opera Memphis.

“Whenever I perform somewhere, I say to myself that music is my first priority,” she said Saturday.

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Blogger Lisa R said...

very cool...thanks for sharing :)

7:34 PM  
Blogger kathi said...

"where she knows she can excel, rather than focus on areas where her disability would hamper her." I LOVE THIS. This is something we can all learn from!

5:05 AM  
Blogger Aspen said...

I absolutely agree with Kathi...

"where she knows she can excel, rather than focus on areas where her disability would hamper her" is brilliantly stated. Thanks for sharing such an uplifting article.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Rosemarie said...

I'm cheering in my seat! What an uplifting and most likely timely encouragement for you.

12:18 AM  

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