Sunday, September 20, 2009

LSO on Call: Health and Harmony in the City, Part 1

On Thursday September 17, 50 Longwood Symphony musicians gathered at Boston Latin School. Rather than sitting in their familiar spots in the BLS Band room --cellos to the left, violins to the right, winds on the risers--they divided into 14 unfamiliar groupings. Three oboes gathered in one room, and octet of winds and strings in another, two horns and string quartet in yet another. In four short weeks, these new groups will be much more familiar with each other, both musically and personally.
- - - Flutist Dany Krause "at play" after performing at Shriners Hospital last spring

Armed with that training, on October 17, they will travel together to health care settings across the Commonwealth.

This is an opportunity for new, shared experiences.
~It is an opportunity for musicians to get to know their patients better
~It is an opportunity for musicians to get to know each other better
~It is an opportunity for musicians to get to know themselves better
~It is an opportunity to consider what difference the experience will make on them as caregivers.

In an effort to measure these changes, LSO has created questionnaires for the musicians, the staff, and the patients. We're exploring our own pre-conceived ideas, our medical perspective, and our expectations.

Midway through the rehearsal, we stopped to gather and each musician shared his/her experiences with music and the intimacy of playing music in a health care setting.

Schubert Octet under Einstein's watchful gaze

One said: "As a child, my family always played music in hospitals and convents. I loved playing my violin for patients. It is one of the reasons I've applied to medical school."

Another shared: "While I have not played in a formal health care setting, I remember performing Bach for my grandmother as she was dying. It was a very moving experience for me."

Many recalled that it had not been since high school that they had the opportunity to play for patients and to play in chamber music groups.

Next step: Matching these 14 groups with patients and health care settings, and matching the repertoire to the audience.

This is a journey. It may not be taking us as far away geographically as our London tour (see June 2008 blogs), but it will challenge our internal compasses nonetheless.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Announcing our 2009-10 season

Longwood Symphony Orchestra (LSO)—the award-winning organization of highly trained musicians from Boston’s medical community—announces an ambitious 27th season. Under the baton of Artistic Director Jonathan McPhee, the musical season will feature a Boston premiere by Giya Kancheli, rarely heard works of Sibelius and Ginastera and will culminate with LSO’s debut concert in Seiji Ozawa Hall in Lenox, Massachusetts.

Maestro McPhee will welcome the New World Chorale and soloists Roger Tapping, viola; Tai Murray, violin; and Philip Fisher, piano to the stage.

Dedicated to “Healing the Community through Music”, LSO continues its tradition of helping medical charities raise funds and public awareness through its Healing Art of Music™ program.

Longwood Symphony Orchestra received the 2007 MetLife Excellence in Community Engagement Award from the League of American Orchestras.

This season’s 2009-10 Community Partners will be:

· Dr. Susan E. Spencer Memorial Epilepsy Research Fund

· The Food Project – an urban farming program for inner city youth

· ATASK – Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence

· Berkshire Children and Families

October 17, 2009

LSO on Call: Health and Harmony across the City

Longwood Symphony Orchestra will be launching its 2009-10 season with an unusual "concert" to demonstrate the healing power of music. On Saturday October 17, 2009, rather than starting the year with a formal orchestral concert LSO will send 15-20 groups to15-20 health care facilities with the goal of playing for 1000 patients across greater Boston in ONE DAY.

LSO on Call, launched in the 2008 by a pilot grant from Merck Research Laboratories-Boston, is a monthly outreach program that brings music directly to patients who can no longer attend concerts.

December 5, 2009

New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall – 8:00pm

New England Premiere of STYX by Giya Kancheli

Roger Tapping, viola

New World Chorale, Holly MacEwen Krafka and John Zielinski, co-directors

Sibelius, Kancheli, Shore

In this evening of mystery and mythology, Maestro Jonathan McPhee and the Longwood Symphony take the audience with them on a musical journey. Jean Sibelius’ Tapiola and Howard Shore’s Lord of the Rings depict the world of wood sprites and the dark mysteries of Middle Earth, while the highlight of the evening is Giya Kancheli’s Styx for Viola, Chorus and Large Orchestra. Hailed as “a masterwork of the 21st century,” the solo viola represents Charon, who ferries souls down the river Styx, between the land of the living and the dead.

LSO’s Community Partner is the Dr. Susan Spencer Memorial Epilepsy Research Fund established in memory of Dr. Susan Spencer, a highly respected pioneer in the field.

March 13, 2010

New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall – 8:00pm

Tai Murray, violin Boston Debut

Ginastera, Barber, Debussy

Artistic Director Jonathan McPhee paints three distinct panoramas from the palettes of Barber, Ginastera and Debussy. LSO introduces Boston to rising star Tai Murray who will join Longwood Symphony Orchestra for Samuel Barber’s beloved Violin Concerto. The concert also includes Alberto Ginastera’s rarely heard Ollantay and Claude Debussy’s epic La Mer.

LSO’s Community Partner is The Food Project whose mission promotes social and personal change through sustainable agriculture.

May 1, 2010

New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall – 8:00pm

Philip Fisher, piano Boston Debut

Nielsen and Rachmaninoff

The best known of his symphonies, Carl Nielsen wrote of his 4th Symphony “ I have an idea for a new composition, which has no programme but will express what we understand as the spirit of life or manifestations of life…that which is Inextinguishable.” This moving work will be paired with Sergei Rachmaninoff’s towering Piano Concerto No. 3, featuring British pianist Philip Fisher.

LSO’s Community Partner is ATASK, Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence which is dedicated to preventing domestic violence and promoting hope among survivors.

June 12, 2010

Seiji Ozawa Hall, Lenox, MA – 8:00pm

Scheer, Nielsen, Debussy

Celebrating music, healing and the inextinguishable human spirit, LSO opens its Ozawa Hall debut with a performance of Albert Schweitzer Portrait by Gene Scheer (2009). This work was co-commissioned by Longwood Symphony Orchestra and the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship in 2009 to honor Dr. Albert Schweitzer, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, musician, physician and humanitarian. The concert will also include Nielsen’s Symphony No. 4 and Debussy’s La Mer.

LSO’s Community Partner will be Berkshire Children and Familes, a Pittsfield-based service organization that supports some of the most vulnerable families in Western Massachusetts through service, advocacy and education.


Season tickets for Longwood Symphony Orchestra’s concert series are $108-$120, on sale now online at, or by phone at 617.667.1527.

Individual concert tickets range from $20-$40 and are available online at or by phone at 617.667.1527.