NYer Of The Week: David Sweeny Uses Piano To Brighten His Life And Others' Lives
Through the power of the piano, this week's New Yorker has enhanced his own life and is giving the gift of music to others. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.
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When David Sweeny lost his sight in his early twenties to ocular cancer, his love of jazz piano became his light, a light brightening his personal and professional life as a musician performing in hospitals around town.
"When I used to walk into the hospital's geriatric psychiatric unit, I used to feel like a rock star," he says. "They would go 'oh, he is here, he is here.' It was way out of proportion to any talent that I really had. But it makes it so fun to be appreciated."
David’s rock-star performances left many applauding, including Hospital Audiences Inc., a nonprofit that brings live music to hospitals, senior centers and schools.
Last year, he became the group's executive director. But David still finds time to play for those who don't otherwise have access to live music.
"Live performance is not just about the quality of the musical experience. It's also about a social experience," he says. "An entire community of people who are otherwise isolated get to participate in that kind of music socially."
"I thought it was great. I was playing maracas away like crazy," says Carmen Rosario, a resident of the Isabella Geriatric Center. "I feel like I am part of the crowd."
The positive feelings are shared at some 200 performances the group provides each month at places like the Isabella Geriatric Center, where many residents suffer from dementia.
"Music is good for the soul. Don't let nobody kid you," says Nelly Horn, a resident at the center. "It releases worry and, what do they call it, sadness. Music. I love it."
So, for enlivening the soul with the power of live music, David Sweeny is our New Yorker of the Week.