That her new business was scheduled to open weeks before Newtown found itself in its greatest hour of need is something Jennifer Zulli could never have imagined.
"God, Source -- whatever you want to call it -- called me here to open at this time," said Ms Zulli, Monday, December 17.
The Sound Center for Music, Creative Arts & Mindfulness opened as of Saturday, December 15, in the historic Hawleyville Chapel on Route 25, following renovations to the former wedding chapel and physician's office by director and owner Jennifer Zulli and her husband, John, of Newtown.
Although open house plans for Sound, originally scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, December 15 and 16, were postponed by the tragic turn of events Friday, December 14, at Sandy Hook School, Ms Zulli said that she was on site all weekend to greet the few curious passersby who stopped in.
Ms Zulli, a music educator, musician, and composer, is turning her attention this week to the Winter Solstice Sound Healing Event and Meditation, based on her recently released Sonic Journey Experiment CD. The event will take place Friday, December 21, beginning at 7:30 pm, in the upper room of Sound Center .
The Winter Solstice Sound Healing Event is a "symphony for the soul," put simply, said Ms Zulli. The evening is a guided meditation using vocalization, Tibetan singing bowls, aromatherapy, focused breathing, and other music presented in an interactive form. Participants can take part as much or as little as they feel the need, she said, and the evening originally intended to celebrate the New Earth may also serve as a source of healing for those struggling to find peace in Newtown at this time. Because space is limited, preregistration is necessary at soundcenterarts.com.
The December 21 event is only the first of many creative arts programs and classes scheduled at Sound Center , most beginning after the first of the New Year. Sound Center continues the healing journey Ms Zulli found for herself through music, after a particularly difficult series of health issues in 2006 and again in 2010.
"That's where the idea for this was born," she said. "I needed to awaken the soul of myself, my family, and everyone. I found music and sound to be very healing," said Ms Zulli, and she wanted to share that with the world around her. A private and public music teacher for 15 years, she has introduced meditation into her elementary school music classes in Eastchester, N. Y., since 2009.
She had driven past the vacated Hawleyville Chapel for months on her way to work in New York. When an extended maternity leave allowed her time for contemplation, she convinced her husband that the historic chapel would be the place to accommodate her dream.
"I set my sight on the vision, and everything just fell organically into place," Ms Zulli said. "I thought that this town was the town that would be most open to this progressive idea, that we are an open-minded town. It's one of the reasons I love this town," she said.
"Newtown is compassionate, and cares about the earth. We needed a place like [Sound] to celebrate the earth and our town. We each have so much to give. I had no idea Newtown would be in this great need," rued Ms Zulli.
Sound Center for Music, Creative Arts, & Mindfulness is made up of three small music rooms on the first floor level, where Ms Zulli and other accredited music teachers offer classes to children and adults in voice, piano, and most other traditional instruments. A larger room, also located on the main level, is available for rental by holistic healing practitioners, part time, she said.
Upstairs is a gathering room where Sound will present Music Together early childhood music and movement programs for children from birth through age 7, as well as yoga, belly dancing, and open meditation classes. Soft lighting, walls painted a soothing green, and two Oriental-style rugs create a comfortable space.
Classes to introduce children to healthy foods and mindful cooking skills, and watercolor painting classes for young people and adults will take place in February and March.
Ms Zulli will also encourage the use of Sound space for music therapy. Cynthia Quintanal, a multidimensional resonant healer with 20 years of experience, uses voice, hands-on, and sacred instruments to facilitate healing on many levels. June Fagen and Tracy Mignone will provide energy-healing experiences, and Susie DeYoung will work with young people in breath awareness classes. A full calendar of classes and list of teachers is posted at the Sound website.
"I am anticipating lots of things for spiritual awareness, and healing for self and earth," said Ms Zulli, "and things for fun, like dancing and celebrating. I am looking forward to having people come here to gather and honor who they are," she said.
She is deeply saddened by the tragedy that temporarily derailed the opening days of Sound Center for Music, Creative Arts & Mindfulness, but believes that she is in the right place, to offer the right salve to Newtown's pain. In this time of darkness, Ms Zulli is hopeful that sound and music can deliver light and peace.
"If anybody's town can heal and show the world how to live," she said, "it is our town."
For more information about Sound Center for Music, Creative Arts & Mindfulness, to register for the Winter Solstice Sound Healing Event and Meditation or for other classes, visit soundcenterarts.com, or call 203-270-1119.
Ms Zulli's two latest albums, Earth Lullaby and Opening, are being played worldwide on satellite and public radio and featured on such programs as Echos and Hearts of Space.