Cultural Conversation with: Lorraine Marks-Field

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Lorraine Marks-Field is bridging the gap between kids and senior citizens through the sound of music.
As founder and conductor of Boca Raton-based Florida Intergenerational Orchestra, she has brought together musicians of all ages, skill sets and backgrounds to perform concerts.
She has done so in South Florida for the past 11 years. The 65-member nonprofit orchestra has musicians ages 9 to 96, she said.
“We have people from all walks of life,” she said. “We never turn anybody away.”
When a woman asked how she could be involved in the orchestra even though she couldn’t read music, Marks-Fields said she taught her how to play the symbols.
“I said, ‘I will point to you when you need to play.’” Marks-Field said. “She is playing in the orchestra and she is wonderful.”
Currently, the youngest member plays viola and the oldest plays the French horn. She said there are dentists, engineers, students who are home schooled and people from all over the country that get together to play music.
Once a week they meet to rehearse at a ball room inside Edgewater Point Estates, an independent living community in Boca Raton.
Their hard work pays off when they perform four concerts each season. Their most recent performance took place in April.
Marks-Field plays several instruments, performs with the Sunrise Pops Orchestra and teaches young musicians ages 3 to 6.
She said what gave her the idea to start an intergenerational orchestra was her experience learning how to play the viola. She said her instructor invited her to play with his group of adult musicians, who became her role models.
“What motived me to practice was sitting downtown next to an older adult and having them mentor me,” she said.
Her first intergenerational orchestra was formed in New Jersey and still exists. When she moved to South Florida, she said she wanted to create a new group. She did so with help from her husband, Bob. He is a retired public defender and now he manages the orchestra and plays piano in the orchestra.
She said it gives her such joy to see the musicians come together to learn and perform.
“Sometimes the students are better than the adults and they help the adults,” she said. “It’s about relationships and mentorship.”
As for the more senior performers, she said the orchestra gives them an activity to look forward to every week.
“They sit down and play their instruments and forget for a few moments their pain and aging,” she said. “Music helps people in their lives.”