Presbyterian Homes Hosts Sylvia McNair and Kevin Cole in Benefit Concert

January 15, 2015 in Events

Evanston, IL (January 12, 2015)—Two-time Grammy Award winning singer Sylvia McNair and world-renowned pianist Kevin Cole will perform music from the Great American Songbook in benefit concerts at Lake Forest Place retirement community on Friday, February 6, at 7:30 p.m. and at Westminster Place retirement community on Saturday, February 7, at 7:30 p.m. The concert benefits the new Songs By Heart Foundation, which provides communication and connection to people with memory loss through the language and joy of music.

“My own successful experience in connecting with a family member with advanced stage Alzheimer’s disease through music led me to establish the Songs By Heart Foundation,” says Nancy Gustafson, founder and executive director. “We want to offer the same opportunity for engagement and improved quality of life to others with memory loss.” A lifelong resident of Evanston, Ms. Gustafson is an internationally acclaimed opera singer and artist-in-residence at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music.

Ms. Gustafson continued, “Songs by Heart Foundation is seeking funding for a 12-week pilot program to develop a template for providing daily, interactive, live vocal performance with piano accompaniment for people with memory loss. The program will take place at Presbyterian Homes’ retirement communities in Lake Forest, Evanston, and Arlington Heights. ”

The pilot program will help establish best practices in its approach to reaching people with dementia in the present moment and enhancing their engagement with others. A music therapist and an expert in memory care will mentor the performers in connecting with older adults with dementia. Established assessment tools will measure the program’s impact on engagement and quality of life. Songs By Heart Foundation’s mission is to offer this outreach to persons with memory loss at retirement communities nationally.

General admission tickets for the concert on Saturday, February 7, are $125. A reception follows the concert. For more information, please call 513-503-8917.

Sylvia McNair

Sylvia McNair’s three-decade career has led her to the musical realms of opera, oratorio, cabaret and musical theater. Her journey has taken her from the Metropolitan Opera to the Salzburg Festival, from the New York Philharmonic to the Rainbow Room and the Ravinia Festival. Reviewed by publications to include The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the London Times and Cabaret Scenes, Ms. Mc Nair has appeared as a soloist with nearly every major opera company and symphony orchestra in the world. She is currently bringing her voice to the songs of Gershwin, Porter, Sondheim and Bernstein.

Kevin Cole

Playing piano since the age of four, Kevin Cole is an award-winning musical director, arranger, composer, vocalist and archivist. Regarded as one of the best interpreters of music from the Great American Songbook, his sold-out performances include playing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, BBC Concert Orchestra at Royal Albert Hall, National Symphony at the Kennedy Center, Chicago Symphony and the Boston Philharmonic. Mr. Cole has earned the praises of Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen, E.Y. Harburg, Hugh Martin, Burton Lane, Stephen Sondheim, Marvin Hamlisch and members of the Jerome Kern and Gershwin families.


Westminster Place is a Presbyterian Homes continuing care retirement community located at 3200 Grant Street in Evanston, IL, that offers independent living in apartments, cottages and townhouses; assisted living, rehabilitative services, health care and memory care for more than 500 residents on a 40-acre campus.


Founded in 1904, Presbyterian Homes is a not-for-profit, faith based organization with a

national reputation for creating extraordinary retirement communities. Presbyterian Homes serves older adults through its residential and health care programs on campuses in Evanston, Lake Forest, and Arlington Heights, Illinois. The organization is accredited by CARF-CCAC (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities – Continuing Care Accreditation Commission), the nation’s only accrediting body for retirement communities. To find out more about Presbyterian Homes, go to