Monday, June 23rd, 2008:
Our first full day in London included a six-hour medical symposium presented by members of the Longwood Symphony and our medical counterparts here in London.
We arrived bright and early at St. Bartholomew's Hospital--which is commonly known as Barts. Barts was founded in 1123 and remains a working hospital nearly 900 years later. William Hogarth's awe-inspiring wall murals, created in 1731, greeted us as we climbed the winding stairs to the Great Hall, in which the symposium and concert took place. These works, depicting Christ caring for the sick, seemed a perfect introduction to our day focusing on Arts and Healing.
We entered the Great Hall, a large, beautiful room with walls covered with historic placards and paintings, where King Henry VIII looks down benignly from the far end of the room.
As orchestra members, we are trained to communicate our passions through our instruments. Today was a very different day for us. Our identities as violinists, bassoonists, flutists and cellists were temporarily put aside as we shared our passions, not for music, but for our research and our patients. This was the first time we have had a chance to hear in depth what our fellow musicians do in the labs, in the wards, and at the bedside.
The Symposium focused on all aspects of cancer care and was divided into sections. Speakers in the "From Bench to Bedside" section shared the latest in cancer biology and targeted therapy. "Living in Harmony with Cancer" raised important questions about quality of life for the cancer survivor.
As the day progressed, connections surfaced between and LSO members, Symposium attendants and colleagues from Barts and Marie Curie Cancer Care found that his or her work resonated with that of a colleague and resulted in an almost musical give-and-take amongst researchers.
Near the end of the day, Dr. Lisa Wong and Music Director Jonathan McPhee, reflected on the phenomenon of the musical physician and a medical musician. Solving a diagnostic dilemma and performing a musical masterpiece requires a very similar approach: discipline, passion and creativity.
The symposium was brought to a close by an inspirational narrative by Bob Champion, winner of the 1981 Grand National and a cancer survivor. He shared with us his intense passion as a jockey and how he harnessed the determination to finally win the ultimate race: that of beating his cancer. His life has since been devoted to supporting cancer care.
After a quick rehearsal/sound check, we headed across the street to Carluccio's for a delicious meal. After the meal, we returned to the Great Hall as musicians. The evening concert showcased our own musicians, opening with Bach's Concerto for Two violins featuring Harvard Medical Students and LSO co-concertmasters Sherman Jia and Sandy Mong.
The duo was followed by a beautiful performance of Borne's fiendishly difficult "Carmen Fantasy" featuring flutist Dr. Daniela Krause. Dr. Leonard Zon,
whose talk on zebrafish, embryonic stem cells and cancer biology inspired us early in the morning, returned with an equally inspiring performance of Albinoni's piccolo trumpet concerto.
The evening concluded with a performance of Copland's "Appalachian Spring". When Music Director Jonathan McPhee shared with the audience his own personal connections with Copland and Martha Graham, the piece took on a new meaning--to musicians and audience members alike.
Monday was truly a wonderful day. It provided the unique (and first!) opportunity for LSO members to get to learn about the passions that their fellow musicians have away from their instruments--and it was truly inspiring to see.
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Comments from our Members:
Dr. Thomas Sheldon, oboe, radiation oncologist: "I was struck with the overlap in the talks. It was not with content, but a way of thinking. Was it ensemble science and medicine? Each speaker thought about what the others had covered. Len and Heidi agreed on some collaborative science after the talks!"
"Playing Copland for a European audience is interesting. Some like it, some don't…so American.
Dany, Len, Sherman and Sandy were great! Dany's dress was gorgeous. What a blue, inky and mysterious!"
John Hecker, French Horn, architect: "The historic performance hall of the Hospital was a wonderful space in which to perform. The large volume of the room allowed our music to expand and 'bloom,' bringing the music to life. This effect was especially apparent in Len Zon's performance of the Albinoni Trumpet Concerto. The sound from Len's piccolo trumpet was brilliantly clear and powerful, thrilling when the notes reached into the highest octave."