Pianist Donald Moors revisits his tune with family at CLR

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BENNINGTON — The musical Moors family enlightened the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center's Center for Living and Rehabilitation (CLR) community on Sunday with classics from the 1930s through the '60s.

On the piano, Donald Moors accompanied his son and daughter-in-law for the first time ever. His son Lyndon alternated between a soprano saxophone and the oboe while Lyndon's wife, Joan, entertained with the ukulele. Songs played ranged from Irving Kahal's "I'll Be Seeing You" (1938), to Elvis Presely's "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You" (1961). Most songs, the crowd joined in singing.

Donald, 89, has just reestablished his love for playing the piano after being a recent patient at CLR. When he could get out of his room, he would claim the instrument. Once he realized the other patients enjoyed it, he decided to arrange a show for them.

Even though Donald doesn't chase music gigs anymore, he tends to play where there is a piano, Lyndon said.

"He's very modest," Lyndon said with a smirk. "He would play at family events, but stop when someone was listening. He knows the staff and nurses here so well now that he loves playing for people."

Last October, Lyndon brought a musician from Pittsfield to play one of Donald's original pieces for the entire family. This brought overwhelming happiness to the musician.

"He doesn't read sheet music," Lyndon said. "He's played his whole career by ear."

"I've composed my own music, but with someone next to me," Donald said. "If I can hum it, I can play it, and if I can play it, they [the band] can play it."

Throughout his career, the pianist starred in numerous band groups and performed throughout Berkshire County including the Olde Forge Restaurant in Lanesboro, Mass., and The Dream Away Lodge in Becket, Mass. Aside from his hobby, Donald served in the military and worked as an engineer at General Electric.

"Times used to be different," Lyndon said. "There used to be live music all the time. It wasn't his career, but he played all the time."

Donald didn't teach Lyndon his talented ways, however the heir was encouraged by his parents and took up a majority of woodwind instruments, despite his wife's love for string instruments.

Lyndon has been a band conductor at Mount Greylock Regional School for 25 years in Lanesboro where he and Joan reside. Aside from teaching, Lyndon is a freelance musician. While Joan is retired, she pursues her ache for music by taking classes at Berkshire Music School in Pittsfield, Mass. The two met through academia and Lyndon encourages Joan's music practice, she professed.

Lyndon's parents of 54 years moved to Bennington from Pittsfield in 1973 without a piano. Since then, Donald slowly lost interest in his natural art.

In between Lyndon's history break-down, Donald interjected mini-stories, most of which involved his time at the CLR. Even though he's no longer a patient, Donald's wife drives him there almost every day to play the piano.

Irving Berlin, a popular 20th century songwriter, gifted a piano to Cole Porter, American composer and songwriter, to which Donald would later tune. That same brand piano lies in the Rockwell Living room at the CLR, which Donald holds a strong attraction to.

One of his memories pertained to a CLR patient who suffered from depression. Donald's first encounter with her was when she emerged from her room to seek the piano music in the living room.

"There's got to be a tie between music and healing. I know there is," Donald said with a relief.

Donald proposed the idea of performing at the CLR and with their last rehearsal the day before, he was still making changes to the set-list, Lyndon said.

"He told me he heard me playing last night, and I said 'Dad how's that possible if I was at my house?'" Lyndon questioned his father.

"I dream about this all night and play it in my head and make changes to the program in my dream," Donald explained.

It seems this first-time collaborating of the Moors family lit a fire in Donald to continue following his love for music.

"It's been wonderful for everyone, really," Joan happily rejoiced. "It's his young self from before he stopped playing."


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