Free Piano Concert By Mary Grace Gellakano Set For Saturday

Monday, April 21, 2014
Set to play piano, Mary Grace Gellakano also will impart a message of perseverance, as the featured artist of Collegedale Seventh-Day Adventist Church's free concert, slated for 3 p.m. on Saturday. The native Filipino, 26, was born with a right forearm ending just below the elbow. But through persistence and dedicated practice, she learned to perform intricate compositions, 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 led 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. LaSalle in the Phillipines.

Now a missionary with Adopt-a-Minister International, and Filipino disaster Relief, 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 it's counterpart.

But such difficulties needn't deter success, according to Ms. Gellekano. She said, “Its' made me a stronger person. My outlook is positive. God has created me this way for a purpose, and I’m eager to make every minute of my life count for God.”

On the pianist's program are selections of “classical and religious music,” according to Rita Vital, a publicist for the concert.

“I have heard her and I have bought her recordings,” she said of Ms. Gellekano. “She plays beautifully, and her life story is truly inspiring."

Her other venues are:
April 25, Friday: 6:30 p.m.
Bowman Hills SDA
300 Westview Drive
Cleveland, Tn. 37312
Contact phone: Matthew Shallenberger: (423) 472-6231

April 26, Saturday: 11 a.m. worship service
East Ridge SDA Church
2165 Dabney Drive
East Ridge, TN 37412
Contact phone: (423) 421-4133

April 26, Saturday: 7:30 p.m.
Chattanooga First SDA
7450 Standifer Gap Road
Chattanooga, Tn 37412
Contact phone: Vanessa Kepper, (423) 987-6643 Barbara Cochran: (423) 894-8391

April 27: 3 p.m.
Sponsored By: 55+ Club
Collegedale University SDA
4829 College Dr. East
Collegedale, Tn. 37315
Contact phone: Ralph Neall, President (423) 396-2212

April 27, 11:20 a.m.
Morning Pointe Assisted Living Collegedale Residents
Contact Phone: (423)505-6605 (Rita Vital) All concerts are free, and an offering will be taken.   CD's will be available for sale after Saturday evening and Sunday programs.
Activities Director Phone: (423)396-6999 (Christy Pope)

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