High Peaks Hospice, Adirondack Harper join forces

LAKE PLACID – High Peaks Hospice & Palliative Care and musician Martha Gallagher join together in 2014 in a unique partnership. Through her performances Gallagher, well known in the region as The Adirondack Harper, will be helping to raise awareness about the mission of and services provided by High Peaks Hospice & Palliative Care.

For the past several years Gallagher has been performing on tours throughout the U.S. and in Canada. In 2014, however, she will be doing a year full of performances throughout the Adirondacks and surrounding regions called “Celebrating Home in the Adirondacks.”

Her extensive tour of the Adirondacks, and her partnership with High Peaks Hospice & Palliative Care, kicks off with her new one-woman show, “Where the Heart Is,” at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts, Friday, Jan. 24.

“High Peaks Hospice came into my home and my family’s life over 20 years ago,” Gallagher said. “My husband’s great aunt came to spend her final months with us and High Peaks Hospice was there to help. Instead of it being a tragic and difficult experience of a family member dying in our home, it was an amazing life experience for all of us, Dennis’ great aunt included.

“She would have been alone in a faraway town had we not been able to depend on the kind, caring, practical services of High Peaks Hospice. Instead, she spent her final days in a comfy home, with family right there. Since that time I have done various events to help HPH as I could with their fund and awareness raising events. “When I decided that 2014 would be the year to return to perform in my home region, I realized how wonderfully this theme of ‘home’ wove together with the mission and vision of High Peaks Hospice & Palliative Care. This would be a great way to let people know what this organization has to offer the people living in our communities.”

Gallagher, a harper, singer, songwriter, storyteller, humorist and actress, has gained international renown for her unique approach to playing the harp and how she incorporates this instrument into her music and shows. She performs her one-woman shows at theaters, arts centers, festivals, and churches, as well as such intimate venues as house concerts. Her school residencies include classroom work and performances for grades K-12. At the college level she has been a guest teaching artist at Berklee College of Music, The Boston Conservatory and Indiana University in Bloomington.

“So many people I know in the Adirondacks are here because they truly love it here; they love being here,” Gallagher said. “Why not be here, at home, with loved ones, to the very end? High Peaks Hospice & Palliative Care has done a great job over the years of raising awareness about what they do.

“It really surprises me, but there are still a lot of people who don’t really understand what HPHPC offers, what they can do to help not only those who are dying, but their families and friends, too.

“I plan to use a segment of each of my concerts to share a little of my hospice experience; touching moments, eye-opening moments and even humorous moments. High Peaks Hospice & Palliative Care is a truly wonderful organization, with truly remarkable people who offer medical and social assistance, as well as grief counseling. “My experience with the people involved with High Peaks Hospice continues to move me and I want to help let others know that this organization exists; that they are here to help. I am even writing a special song that I will be sharing during my concerts.”

High Peaks Hospice & Palliative Care is a nonprofit health care organization that provides compassionate end of life care in a 5,400-square-mile area in northern New York. Its vast service area includes all of Warren and Essex counties as well as portions of Washington, Franklin, Hamilton and St. Lawrence counties.

Hospice respects patient wishes, offers comfort care – as well as emotional, practical, bereavement and spiritual support to the whole family -?and provides care where the patient feels most comfortable – most often in the home. The emphasis is on quality of life, living and peace.

Gallagher’s yearlong tour in 2014 will emphasize, through the telling of her personal experience, the life affirming services that hospice provides.

Gallagher recently had a very special harp built for her that she will be playing in her performances. Several years ago, while on tour in the Pacific Northwest, she had the opportunity to tour the Dusty Strings Harp workshop in Seattle, Wash.

When she saw beautiful pieces of wood left unused in a corner of the workshop, she conceived an inspired idea for their use. Prompting a reclamation of discarded wood to be put to good use, she suggested that the makers build a harp for her from these “orphan” pieces of maple, bubinga and black walnut. The craftspeople rose to the challenge and created “The Orphan Harp;” a stunning looking and gorgeous sounding harp; the only one of its kind in the world.

Gallagher believes that such a unique instrument, made from unused, abandoned, homeless, “harpless” pieces of wood, must surely have a special calling in the world.

Before this harp even arrived at her door, it had claimed its purpose in life; to help and heal through music. Gallagher admits that she has never related to her harps in human terms, as in having a gender or a name.

But “The Orphan Harp” was different right from the very start and she had claimed her own name – her name is Hope.

For more info on Gallagher, including her performance schedule, visit www.adkharper.com or for more information on High Peaks Hospice & Palliative Care, visit highpeakshospice.org.