A high school student who had ever only thought of New Haven as a rough place. A teenager whose voice had been stifled by adversity for years, but had a “rip your face off” kind of quality to it when she opened her mouth and sang. An Afghan war veteran who found a guitar vital to readjusting to civilian life. Three woman who found solace in the solo flight of a brave butterfly.
These were some of the stories told through song, dance and praise when Adam Christoferson and community members who have been touched by his organization Musical Intervention graced the stage for “Inspired Songs of New Haven” at Lyric Hall. Performing to a crowd of nearly 100, they gave one of the most genuine, heart-tickling and soul-opening shows that New Haven has seen this year, bringing the audience to its feet—and to tears—several times throughout the evening.
The exquisite and humble brainchild of Christoferson, Musical Intervention seeks to serve and inspire “various populations” in the New Haven community through music making. With Christoferson’s help, participants write, produce, and perform original songs. “We believe there is a song in everyone and we want to help you create it,” he writes on the website. A recent $2,000 Community Engagement Grant from the Arts Council of Greater New Haven has helped him fulfill that mission; over the past weeks, he has been able to expand his reach to new participants at Fellowship Place and collaborate with veteran support organizations like Til Duty is Done.
Having grown up caring for his parents, a “100 percent disabled” Vietnam war veteran and a mother who struggled with mental illness, he said serving others came naturally to him. When Sue Feldman, director of programs at Village of Power, urged him to play music with African-American women at risk of HIV, he felt he had found a calling.
It was only the beginning. After graduating from Southern Connecticut State University, he started bringing his guitar into work at Yale Child Psych Inpatient Hospital. Then he joined David Sasso on the Riverview Opera Project. He made Musical Intervention into a reality and traveled to Tunes in Times Square with Jeremiah Brown, one of the program’s first participants.
“I love making music, and I love performing, and I love recording ... but I also love people. When I get the chance to bring both things together, that’s what it’s all about. And that’s what happened tonight,” he said after the show, dedicated to the memory of his grandmother Helen.
His work has made a marked difference for hundreds of community members, children and adults alike, in the city. At Lyric Hall on Friday, that was on full display, from Pasquale DeLuca’s emotional performance of “Never-Ending Fight” to Rhonda Thomas, Margaret Gainey and Carolyn Shard’s harmonic ode to a butterfly, which bought the house down with an energetic refrain of “I’ll Fly Away.”
“God is working through him,” said Shard, who explained to the crowd that she is currently homeless, and Christoferson had taken her, Gainey, and Thomas shopping and to eat before the performance because they had nothing to wear. As she spoke, he turned his back and began to cry—and so did the members of the audience. Musical Intervention, you see, is the kind of thing that makes all the good synapses fire at once.
Christoferson felt this, surely, as the evening came to a close, and delivered a parting benediction for the room.
“Go in peace. Love each other. Make music.”
Musical Intervention will be starting a weekly open mic night at Lyric Hall Monday at 7pm. To find out more, visit its website.