On Wednesday morning, a group of 17 LSO musicians set off for Surrey to visit the Marie Curie Cancer Research Institute. After being introduced to rush hour, London-style, on "Europe's largest parking lot," our coach bus, driven by the virtuoso bus driver Colin, finally wound its way up a narrow road to a beautiful stone building overlooking miles of breathtakingly beautiful English countryside.
Upon our arrival, we entered the Lecture Hall of MCRI, where many of the lab’s researchers had gathered. Dr. Robert Cross talked about Marie Curie and her dedication to innovation in research. He introduced us to the Institute, which consists of 100 scientists whose work focuses on “the molecular mechanisms responsible for the development of cancer, with the ultimate aim of exploiting our efforts in the development of new methods for the prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment and palliation of cancer.” (http://www.mcri.ac.uk/)
Dr. Lisa Wong explained the LSO’s mission and vision and then our musicians and scientists introduced themselves by instrument and profession, and then performed a concert of solos, duos, quartets and quintets. The analogy of collaborative science and chamber music was immediately apparent.
After the concert, LSO musicians and MCRI researchers mingled over a lovely lunch, talking about music and science. Dr. Cross described that there were at least two accomplished musicians in his lab, and many others who had played music as children. The view was breathtaking. Shared research interests were found between medical student violinist Jenny Chang and scientists at MCRI .
The afternoon brought us to Eden Hall Marie Curie Hospice in Hampstead where flutist Dr. Daniela Krause had spent several weeks during her third year of medical school.
Dr. Philip Lodge is a palliative care physician at Marie Curie Edenhall Centre, one of their many hospice facilities. He led a lively discussion about similarities and differences in palliative care between the UK and the US. Several different chamber ensembles shared their gift of music to the patients, the patient lodge, in halls, individual patient rooms. As one family said a final farewell to their loved one, they thanked us that her final hour was filled with music.
LSO cellist and Palliative Care nurse, Nancy Chane met with Dr. Philip Lodge of Edenhall to learn more about Hospice in the UK. When Nancy returns to Boston, she will share what she has learned during her time on this tour with her colleagues at the Transitions Program of Partners HealthCare.
In our orchestra, music heals the healers themselves: it was a real gift to share our music with the staff and patients at the Hospice—a perfect example of the healing abilities of music.