December 2023 Newsletter

December 2023

The Tacy Foundation empowers children and teens to share hope and joy with hospital patients, military veterans, senior citizens, and disadvantaged youth through performances, music recording projects, and music mentoring programs.

Check out the music we’re making!

Director’s Corner

On November 16, an email came to the Foundation from a math teacher in Uvalde, Texas. While walking around the El Progresso Memorial Library, she had discovered some beautiful cards with the writing, “From a Tacy Volunteer.” She looked on the web and found our organization. She wrote to say, “Thank you for the cards and support,” for her town and for the children and their families who were directly involved in the tragedy at Robb Elementary School in June 2022. The teacher also reached out through Zoom to speak with me about the Uvalde families in the past year and a half.

I extend that heartfelt "Thank You" from Uvalde families to all of you for your cards, music, and stories on videos. Kindly continue to send your thoughts and prayers for hope and healing. You truly make a difference.

Throughout December, the month of celebrations, we are so excited to bring our local community joyful music, holiday stories, holiday videos, piano and guitar lessons, and eternal optimism through our youth’s music, art, and caring for others.

Don't forget The Tacy Foundation as you prepare your generous tax-deductible gifts before the New Year! Be generous. We need your donations! Thank you!

Happy Diwali, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza, and New Year!

Young Composer Spotlight

Michael Tacy and Lumina Zhang

This month’s featured composer is Lumina Zhang, who is gracious enough to share her second movement of her first piano sonata with us. She had this to say about it:

I first started writing this second movement a very long time ago, but could never come up with something I really liked. Everything sounded too similar to what I always wrote, and I wanted it to sound different. So, I decided to work on other things for a time and revisit it later. After having some exposure in writing many other styles of music, I came back to this piece about a year later, and I was able to write something a lot more mature and expressive.

-Lumina Zhang

I’m so proud of the progress that Lumina and all our young composers have made in their writing! I hope you enjoy this beautiful piece by Lumina Zhang!

-Michael Tacy

Sonata No . 1 Mvt. 2 - Lumina Zhang

Music to Soothe Broken Spirits

Charlotte Holiday

Last month I wrote about the impact of the Holocaust on my piano professor’s life. Both he and his wife, Artur and Ruth Balsam, fled from Europe to New York City during WWII. They were the sole survivors of each of their families. The wounds from the war rendered Mr. Balsam silent to the outside world … except through his music. Here is a remembrance of him that continues to remind me of the power of music in restoring the soul.

I had taken the summer off from graduate school to go back to my home in Kentucky in order to help my mother, sisters, and brother and to work. Graduate school was expensive in NYC, unaffordable for my family. When I returned to the city in the fall, I did not have time to learn my graduate recital program. Terrified, I went to my first lesson of the year and explained about the all-night job I had to take working in a rubber factory in 110 degree weather.    

Mr. Balsam sat quietly and then, with a sigh, said, “During the war, I fled from Poland, Germany, France, and Great Britain. For months and months, I did not play piano at all.  And I had been an award-winning pianist! When I arrived safely in New York, I was given the position of Staff Accompanist at Carnegie Hall because of my pre-war reputation. I had not touched a piano for almost two years. When I sat down to play for the first time, my hands remembered where and how to play. Music came back! It soothed my broken spirit and restored my will to live and then to thrive. I can tell you; your music will be wonderful this year, Charlotte. You will see. Music fills our souls with hope, it is the comforter of all sorrow, and it heals the spirit. Through music, I still have a life ahead of me. And I am grateful.”

Please read the Smithsonian Magazine article “Jewish Musicians Composed Songs of Survival.” The remarkable stories of musicians who survived the Holocaust come alive.

Being a Piano Pals Teacher

Victoria Lai

This is my first year doing Piano Pals, and I am absolutely in love. At first, I was a little nervous because kids can be a little difficult to work with sometimes. But after my first session, I realized there was nothing to worry about because the Piano Pals students are such a great group. I am eternally grateful to be working with students who are so eager to learn music and earn different colored wristbands after each level. I am looking forward to seeing how much the students will grow over the session. Thanks to this program, I can share music with the younger generation.

New Performers and Old Acquaintances

Shaun Wang

On October 22, 2023, the upstairs piano lounge of Brookdale Senior Center was filled with the sweet sounds of music as eight talented musicians from The Tacy Foundation performed. Among them, five new members: McKenna, Latham and Olivia from the Berry family, Andrew, and Kyle.

Kyle, a saxophone player, is a student at Rosa Parks Middle School who was invited by Samuel. Dressed in elegant attire, he certainly was an entertainer to the audience, as his mom commented.

Andrew, an advanced pianist, presented a breathtaking masterpiece by Beethoven, infusing the room with energy and enthusiasm that resonated in every corner.

At the concert, my mother also recognized Mrs. Berry. It turned out that years ago, Mrs. Berry, then a site supervisor at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, had met my mother when she had taken us to perform there. At that time, Olivia was the sole musician from the Berry family. It was amazing that they were able to re-connect through the Tacy Foundation’s music programs. Both Olivia and I played Yiruma's music on the piano -- it seems that we both enjoy his music. Mrs. Berry was moved to tears when she saw her daughter play.

As the concert unfolded, more and more people trickled into the venue, prompting Mr. Coates to scramble for additional chairs. His dedication to ensuring everyone had a seat, even carrying in a sofa for three at one point, shows his invaluable contribution to the Brookdale community. Mr. Coates is a true treasure to the facility -- the epitome of enthusiasm and helpfulness.

We had a large audience of over 20 seniors, and I could see that they all enjoyed our music. All in all, it was a very special concert, and we look forward to playing holiday music in the coming months.

From left to right: Claire, Berry McKenna, Latham and Olivia, Andrew, Kyle, Samuel and Shaun

Finding Young Musicians to Perform

Alice Yacubovich

In the face of disappointment, I found inspiration. As a chief intern responsible for organizing bi-monthly concerts at a retirement home full of excited and hopeful senior residents, being informed that the performance had to be cancelled due to a lack of volunteers was disheartening. However, this setback only motivated me to create even more amazing concerts.

It was discouraging to witness the emptiness of SignupGenius, as the “spots filled” stayed at one volunteer week after week. However, even though struggling to gather enough volunteers for a concert may be upsetting, it is important to remember that we all have the same mission: to spread hope and love through the language of music. Through these challenges, I came to realize that talented musicians and extraordinary volunteers are not scarce; they are everywhere, and they can be found!

Taking the initiative, I reached out to my network of friends at Sherwood High School’s music department. Within a week, I had assembled a remarkable group of musicians who were eager to contribute their talents to our cause.

The quest to find volunteers is not limited to a school’s music department. Resources such as the Tacy Foundation email chains, work connections, and even the power of word of mouth, are valuable resources in finding volunteers. Soon, it became apparent that amazing musical volunteers existed everywhere, waiting to be invited to share their passion for music.

In sharing this story, I encourage everyone facing a similar challenge to cast a wide net when seeking volunteers. Whether through school connections, foundation networks, workplace associations, or casual conversations, extraordinary talents are all around us. Together, we can turn disappointment into triumph and continue spreading hope and love, one beautifully orchestrated note at a time.

Link to a video of one of the Bedford Court concerts

Musical Performance Opportunities

The Tacy Foundation is offering biweekly live-music opportunities at Sibley Hospital on Saturdays at 3:00 p.m. Volunteers can play piano (or other instruments) for passersby in the beautiful atrium lobby for people there and in nearby hallways. It’s an inviting, open space for music with a wonderful Steinway piano. We hope to bring joy to the patients and hospital employees who are working tirelessly to keep everyone safe and healthy.

A Wonderful Start for the

Falcon's Landing-Tacy Foundation Partnership

Anna Bray, Chief Intern at Falcon’s Landing

On November 12th, the Tacy Foundation held its first performance at the Falcon’s Landing location. The concert was held in a beautiful ballroom with a well-maintained baby grand before a crowd of appreciative residents. The program was entertaining and varied. It included a work for viola by Bach, a rendition of “Tomorrow” from the musical Annie, and a collection of four-hand pieces by Faure. All the volunteers worked together to ensure the residents enjoyed a wonderful afternoon of music. Well done, Tacy Foundation!

A Note from a Former Tacy Volunteer

Allison Oh

I transferred to Vanderbilt University this semester. Since my time here, I have picked up a double major in Human and Organizational Development but have still been focused on my piano performance degree. I recently accepted a job as an undergraduate research assistant at the Vanderbilt Music Cognition Lab, where I will be working with a researcher to explore the efficacy of music therapy-based interventions. Additionally, I have been offered a position as a volunteer researcher at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where I will be assisting researchers and doctors in live music-therapy sessions. The interviewers found my experience with the Tacy Foundation incredibly intriguing and applauded the Foundation's mission and endeavors. I wanted to let you know that I wouldn't have found my passion for music research or landed these opportunities without you or the Foundation!

Expanding the Repertoire

Zack Lam

Last year, in an event at Brightview Grosvenor, I witnessed a fellow volunteer play the famous John Denver song “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” It was a lazy and rainy afternoon, but as soon as the residents recognized the first few bars, they began to sing along.

This sight sparked a deep curiosity in me, and I began to wonder how volunteers could form a closer connection with their audience. For this reason, I recently talked to Claire Ison, the Vibrant Living Director at Brightview Woodmont. She formerly worked for Brightview Mclean, and it was her experience with the Tacy Foundation that encouraged her to invite the Tacy volunteers down to Woodmont, a relatively new site that was built four years prior. When I asked Ms. Ison what the residents most enjoyed hearing, she said that although they enjoy classical music, many of them have either a background in New York City or grew up steeped in the culture of Broadway and jazz. Thus, she highly encouraged us to seek out those pieces, as well. I took these comments into account, and at Brightview Woodmont, I gave it a try.

Ms. Ison also suggested a few more methods of boosting audience interaction. Her first idea was to involve the audience through melodic guessing games and trivia. In addition, because many residents are also musicians, she suggested that we organize ensembles or duets with them.

At the November 12 event, we had Josh and David, two brothers who played a mixture of classical and popular music. Josh even brought out a viola, and David mentioned playing the clarinet next time. Then, Katie played an elegant interpretation of Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9, No. 3. Finally, I played two jazz standards, Giant Steps and There Will Never Be Another You. Despite there being only a few performers, the program was balanced and well-received by the residents.

Coming to Brightview Woodmont has given a special meaning to my weekends. Before the COVID-19 pandemic closed down the world, I always went to my grandfather’s senior home in Hong Kong and played piano there. Every time I show up at a performance event for the Tacy Foundation, I not only play for the residents but also remember my grandfather. There is always a sense of unspoken connection between the seniors and the volunteers, vital to fulfilling the Foundation’s central purpose: to “inspire hope, note by note.”

Josh & David Badmus, Katie Wang, Zack Lam

The Power of Recommendations

Charlotte Holliday

As I am telling high school seniors this year, the reason I am so very honored to write a recommendation on their behalf is this: When I was a music student, I had the privilege of meeting a young conductor, Jorge Mester, who was conducting the Louisville Orchestra for Children's Concerts in public schools. I was chosen from the University of Kentucky (Lexington) to play the 1st movement of the Piano Concerto No. 5 (“Emperor”) by Beethoven for these concerts. At the rehearsal, after finishing the first movement with the orchestra, Maestro Mester turned to me and said, "Do you know the 2nd and 3rd movements of the Emperor? I am performing the entire concerto with Gina Bachauer in Cincinnati this weekend. I could use the practice with a live pianist." I said hesitantly, "Yes. I know those movements."

So, in the rehearsal, we played all three movements. It was the first time I had played this great masterpiece with orchestra. The orchestra members applauded! ... and then we played the First Movement for the children's concert.

I never saw Jorge Mester again. Months later, I wrote to him and timidly asked the maestro if he would be willing to write a short letter of recommendation for me for acceptance to The Juilliard School of Music as part of my application for graduate school. To my shock, he did! That recommendation opened doors for me in New York City and beyond. And I never forgot that. In gratitude for the Maestro’s kindness and generosity for me, I am paying forward the blessing he gave me, an unknown, aspiring musician. I am so honored to write on behalf of youth seeking entrance to college or graduate school or scholarships.

I know the difference that every little part makes in the process of finding a high school senior’s next "home" for his/her journey in the adult world.

With each recommendation I send the silent wish, “Blessings for you as you make your place in the adult arena. The world really needs you!”

The Tacy Foundation

Educational Mission: Foster youth development through music, story and mentoring


Philanthropic Mission: Empower youth to discover and use their gifts in service to others


Social Mission: Build community partnerships and create intergenerational connections


Whom We Serve




Service members



Economically disadvantaged

Individuals who want to serve


How We Serve (Programs)

Live music concerts

Reading Express®

Piano Pals®

Guitar Pals®

Composers’ Circle

Music USBs

Musical equipment

COVID projects through video, email, cards, puzzles for outreach to the community


Charlotte Holliday, Founder and Executive Director

Matthew D. Scott and Michael Tacy, Graphic Editors

Michael Favin, Chief Editor

Zoe Bell, Teen Editor

Max Belyanstev, Teen Editor

Donations are appreciated.  All adult and teen staff are volunteers.  No salaries or benefits. Every dollar you donate goes to supplies for all projects offered to the community. 


Thank you!  

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