Dulcinea takes their talents around Grand Rapids to area nursing homes and concert venues

Local ensemble group, Dulcinea, is taking their talents around Grand Rapids to area nursing homes and other concert venues. With many years of experience between the musicians, the ensemble provides a unique and pleasant music experience for audiences.

Dulcinea is made up of the following members: Judy Garshelis, dulcimer; Carol Morrill, dulcimer; Jess Myers, flute; Becky Loomis, viola and cello; Cathy Cleary, guitar and record; Marina Whight, harp; Deena Skaja, french horn; and Len Clark, bass. While the group doesn’t always have everyone performing together, they are able to collaborate with each other to make the music come together each time. The ensemble plays a variety of music genres including oldies, celtic and popular music.

“I just think we work well together. It’s so great,” Garshelis said.

Garshelis and Morrill play the dulcimer, a fretted three string instrument played by placing the instrument on the lap. Morrill heard another local dulcimer player at a First Friday Downtown Art Walk and decided to learn the instrument.

“So I sat around for the summer and said, ‘Hmm. Certainly three strings can’t confound me.’ I do play other instruments as well,” Morrill commented. “But it proved to be quite difficult because this is different than most strings instruments. Your bass is here and your treble is close to your body.”

After seeing her sister-in-law play the dulcimer, Garshelis fell in love and knew she wanted to learn how to play. She then heard that Morrill knew how to play and asked to play together. The idea came to bring a group together and Dulcinea was formed.

Clark is joining the group for their upcoming Father’s Day performance on the bass. A long-time musician, Clark doesn’t normally cover the bass part but has a special reason for doing so this time.

“My brother and I played music you know since we were young and he was the bass player. He just since died this spring and we’ve done two summer concert series at Our Redeemer Lutheran in Cohasset,” Clark said. He added that another friend of his who also played the bass passed away last winter. “So we don’t have any bass players. So I’m going to pick it up and do the best I can.”

The ensemble plays for a variety of audiences but most often can be found playing at local nursing homes. They enjoy playing songs that residents are familiar with and bring bells and egg shakers for audience participation. The group also leads sing-a-longs, asks trivia questions and may even crack a joke in between songs.

“You know music is a universal language whether you have dementia or you don’t, whatever country you’re from,” Garshelis noted. “It’s just a beautiful way to relate. And that population, they have so little.”

Dulcinea plans to have another performance this coming fall but has not set a date yet. The ensemble will be performing this Father’s Day at the Community Presbyterian Church in Grand Rapids for the 10 a.m. service. Clark and other members of the group will be participating in the Grand Rapids 2019 Summer Concert Series in “All Strings Considered,” as well.

“So I see us, we’ll probably branch out over time, but one step at a time,” Garshelis said.


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