Mary Grace Gellanko will be in Chattanooga April 25-27 for several performances. She will also be giving a message on perseverance at each engagement.
Ms. Gellakano, 26 and a native Filipino, was born with a right forearm ending just below the elbow. But through persistence and dedicated practice, she learned to perform intricate compositions on the piano and organ, using her left hand and partial right arm.
The abbreviated limb “plays melody while my left hand plays the rest of the chords,” said Ms. Gellakano, speaking by phone from her Louisiana home.
“Occasionally, my stump bleeds and playing hurts,” she said. But the painful strokes remind her, she said, “of what makes my music unique.”
She was six when her fledgling interest in music lead her grandmother to locate a piano teacher who would work with disabled students, according to Ms. Gellakano. She said there was talk of her fitting her with an artificial limb.
“But there were disadvantages,” she said. “With prosthesis, my stump might have shrunk, and I was afraid (of the risk).”
At 15, she had her first solo organ recital and followed suit on the piano the next year, she said. In 1996, she made her inaugural international tour with appearances in Guam, Thailand, and Europe. In 2001, she earned a psychology degree at the University of St. KaSalle in the Philippines.
Now a missionary with Adopt-a-Minister International, Ms. Gellekano concedes that her congenital condition had impaired her ability to perform such manual tasks as cutting meat or opening envelopes. Her participation in activities such as roller skating is precluded with having a foot with only three toes on the right leg that's eight inches shorter than its counterpart.
But such difficulties needn't deter success, according to Ms. Gellekano. She said, “It has made me a stronger person. My outlook is positive.”
Ms. Gellekano's schedule:
Friday, April 25, 6:30 p.m.
Bowman Hills SDA
300 Westview Dr., Cleveland
Matthew Shallenberger: 472-6231
Saturday, April 26, 11 a.m. worship service
East Ridge SDA Church
2165 Dabney Dr., East Ridge
Saturday, April 26, 7:30 p.m.
Chattanooga First SDA
7450 Standifer Gap Road, Chattanooga
Vanessa Kepper, 987-6643 Barbar Cochran, 894-8391
Sunday, April 27, 3 p.m.
Sponsored By: 55+ Club
Collegedale University SDA
4829 College Dr. East, Collegedale
Ralph Neall, 396-2212
The concerts are free, but a free will offering will be taken for her Filipino projects.