Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Arts/Entertainment

June 19, 2014

Remembering Joni; Flutist pairs daughter's poems with music for tribute concert

She’ll always be daddy’s little girl. Her cancer struggle ended her life much too soon, but her father wants to help other families going through similar dark days with what he knows best — music.

Joni Finegold, who grew up in Andover on Lavender Hill Lane, was just 42 years old, married to Daniel Sachs and a mother of two girls, ages 6 and 11, when she died of lung cancer in July 2012. She had fought a non-smoking-related type of the disease for 18 months.

Her father, Michael Finegold, an accomplished flutist and professor, turned to music to help him cope with his pain and loss.

First, he kept his daughter’s spirits up with his music while he and his wife, Sondra, a retired reading specialist in the local schools, cared for her at their Andover home. He suggested she write poetry expressing what she was going through as she listened to his music.

Following his daughter’s death, Finegold returned to her poetry, this time setting the verses to music.

This Sunday, June 22, the retired music professor at Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill and artistic director of Essex Chamber Music Players will share those treasured compositions in a concert that will benefit Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

The concert will take place at 2 p.m. in the Hartleb Tech Center on the Haverhill campus of NECC, 100 Elliott St.

“I wanted to do something with these poems, not just leave them on the computer,” Michael Finegold said. “I know that many families go through this (cancer struggles) ... that’s life ... maybe this concert will help someone ... besides being a memorial benefit concert, the concert provides insight into the minds of people with cancer.”

Finegold says his daughter was a very smart and curious woman. Joni Finegold, who was the sister of state Sen. Barry Finegold, D-Andover, and Diana Finegold, graduated from Phillips Academy Andover in 1987 and went on to attend Barnard College. She then graduated from the London School of Economics, where she earned a degree in international relations. She had a master’s degree in conflict analysis and resolution from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

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