Thursday, April 29, 2010

Philip Edward Fisher makes his Boston Debut

100 years ago, on November 28, 1909, in New York City, Sergei Rachmaninoff himself performed the first performance of his Third Piano concerto, a work of brooding beauty and complexity. The New York Herald predicted that “it will doubtless take rank among the most interesting piano concertos of recent years," but that "its great length and extreme difficulties bar it from performances by any but pianists of exceptional technical powers.”

On Saturday evening in Jordan Hall, the brilliant 29 year-old British pianist, Philip Edward Fisher, will demonstrate just the sort of exceptional technique the New York Herald critics referred to a century ago. Rehearsals have been thrilling; a chance for great collaboration between Fisher, conductor Jonathan McPhee and musicians of the LSO.

McPhee has paired the Rachmaninoff with Carl Nielsen's Symphony No. 4,"The Inextinguishable" a work that was premiered only seven years later in 1916. Nielsen himself described this monumental piece as “a sort of symphony in one movement, which is meant to represent all that we feel and think about life in the most fundamental sense of the word, that is, all that has the will to live and to move.”

Following the performance, Fisher will be on hand to sign his newly released CD. For tickets and information, go to

Sunday, April 25, 2010

LSO receives Community Health Pinnacle Award from Mattapan Community Health Center

[On April 24, 2010, Dr. Lisa Wong accepted the 2010 Community Health Pinnacle Award on behalf of Longwood Symphony Orchestra at Mattapan Community Health Center's 14th annual "Rock the Boat" Gala]

I am proud to accept this award on behalf of Maestro Jonathan McPhee and my 120 colleagues in the Longwood Symphony Orchestra. We are practitioners of music and medicine and Heal our Community through Music through three major programs:
• By playing in shelters, hospices and senior centers
• By giving lecture performances that demonstrate creativity at the intersection of the arts and sciences
• AND our signature program: By sharing our concert stage at Jordan Hall with outstanding local nonprofit organizations such as Mattapan Community Health Center to help them build new relationships, get the word out, and grow. Since we started this program in 1991, we have worked with 38 different organizations, and have helped raise nearly $1 million dollars for our community’s health.

About six years ago, I met Greg Bulger and Richard Dix, who many of you know well. Back then, they shared with me their vision to support health and the arts in our community—a vision from which they have never wavered. It was Greg who suggested that I get to know Mattapan Community Health Center.

I have been a pediatrician for over 25 years. One thing I love about my profession is that special feeling and electricity that you feel when you walk into any well-run healthcare organization—an energy that radiates from people who care--people who are working to make a difference: in the life of a child, in the life of a family, in the life of a community

This is an energy that is palpable.
THIS is the energy I felt when I walked into Mattapan Community Health Center the very first time and when I met Dr. Azzie Young.
It is the energy I feel every time I visit the health center.

Azzie’s vision was to use our Longwood Symphony concert together to announce the start of a new campaign – a campaign to build a much-needed new facility to meet the health needs of the people of Mattapan. It was a huge success.

Since then, I have watched Mattapan with pride and have attended every Rock the Boat event—I’ve even played violin at some of the VIP receptions—and now I applaud you as your dream of a new facility becomes a reality.
I am proud to have played a part in the remarkable work of Mattapan Community Health Center and I am proud to be part of the medical and musical fabric of our Boston Community.

I’d like to close with a few words to live by from my pediatric and my musical world. First, I’d like to quote from Robert Fulghum’s “All I Need to Know I learned in Kindergarten”,
• Play fair.
• Share everything.
• Put things back where you found them.
• Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
• When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together
• Warm cookies and cold milk –and a good gala--are ALL good for you.

To these I’d like to paraphrase two thoughts from “All I Need to Know I learned in Orchestra Rehearsal” taken from last week’s rehearsal with conductor Jonathan McPhee.

• When there is more than one musical idea going on in the music, if everyone only thinks about his own part and plays it loudly, it won’t sound very good. Listen to each other’s ideas first, then put the music back together. Now you will listen for each other and hear how the parts are in harmony.

• When you are looking at a difficult passage, don’t look up to the note and wonder if you will get there—your fear will hold you back; instead, aim beyond that note and you’ll be sure to land on it--squarely, securely --and in tune.

Don’t look back, Mattapan Community Health Center – keep on striving, reaching beyond your notes and being in tune with the community.

Thank you again for honoring me and the Longwood Symphony Orchestra with the 2010 Community Health Pinnacle Award.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Nourishing our Communty Through Music

The month of March was National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, Longwood Symphony Orchestra participated in a number of musical/medical/service activities to raise awareness for hunger relief and nutrition.

Healing Art of Music: The Food Project
LSO's March 13, 2010 concert was in collaboration with the wonderful organization, The Food Project (, which serves the greater Boston community as a community building, youth leadership, and hunger relief organization. During the summers, hundreds of young people participate in tending acres of farms, building raised neighborhood gardens, and making fresh produce accessible to those in the inner city through TFP-staffed Farmers Markets. The concert was attended by 800 people, 325 of which were from The Food Project. Donors who could not attend the performance underwrote tickets so the young people could. At intermission, TFP volunteers shared packets of lettuce seeds with the audience.

LSO on Call: playing for hunger relief organizations

In keeping with its mission to bring music to those who might not otherwise hear classical music, LSO musicians spent a day in three hunger relief organizations for homeless: Women's Lunch Place, Pine Street Inn, and Haley House. Each has found unique and inspiring ways to feed our community's hungry while maintaining their dignity and helping them to move forward.

[Here, Drs.Caroline Kann and Gwendoline Thornblade played duets in the Haley House Cafe on a sunny Saturday afternoon.]

Orchestras Feeding America Food Drive

As members of the League of American Orchestras, Longwood Symphony added its contributions to the second annual Orchestras Feeding America Food Drive. Members of the orchestra and concergoers joined forces to collect 457 lbs of food, including a very generous donation of drinks from Ocean Spray. This food was delivered to the Greater Boston Food Bank for distribution to members of our community. Here are neurology researcher Caroline Kan (violin) and pediatric psychiatrist Dr. Andrea Spencer (viola) delivering food to the food bank.