Saturday, November 20, 2010

Celebrating a founding member - Dr. Leonard Zon

Watch Len Zon on NOVA!

Dr. Leonard Zon has played first trumpet with the Longwood Symphony since 1984. Len is Grousbeck Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, an Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Director of the Stem Cell Program at Children's Hospital Boston.

His research focuses on two major developing areas: modeling human diseases in zebrafish, and stem cell biology. Dr. Zon is a member of the Institute of Medicine and was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In 2008, Dr. Zon traveled to London with the Longwood Symphony. After giving the keynote lecture about his stem cell research and zebrafish model at a symposium on Innovations in Cancer Care in the Great Hall at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, he performed a Telemann trumpet concerto under the watchful eye of King Henry VIII.

We've recently learned that besides playing the trumpet, the multitalented Len Zon is also the shofar player for his synagogue.

This week, Len was featured on PBS's NOVA. Click here to learn many more interesting tidbits about his cancer research, love of music, and very special zebrafish!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Discovery and Creativity at Hotel Marlowe

What is creativity? Are there different kinds of creativity for science and for music? do they overlap? What is the link between artistic and scientific discovery?

n Wednesday evening November 17, Longwood Symphony Orchestra and Hotel Marlowe held the first of a three-part series on Discovery and Creativity in the hotel's cozy library.

A string quartet of musician scientists from Longwood Symphony Orchestra were joined by Nobel laureate and MIT professor Dr. Richard Schrock for a thought-provoking fireside chat on creativity. They were:

Psyche Loui, Ph.D. Music and Neuroimaging Lab, BIDMC (violin)
Christopher Richards, Ph.D. Propulsion Physiology Lab, Rowland Institute (violin)
Michael Cho, M.D., MPH, Brigham and Womens Hospital (viola)
Heidi Greulich, Ph.D. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Broad Institute (cello)

The evening opened with a movement of Mozart's Quartet in G major. Then each musician spoke about his/her scientific work, from cancer biology to clinical research on chronic obstructive lung disease to animal movemnt to the neuroscience of music.

Dr. Richard Schrock received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2005 " for the development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis." A professor at MIT, Dr. Schrock recalled his experience as a young scientist at the age of 8, when he received his very first chemistry set. "Even then," he said, "I remember enjoying seeing how I could combine chemicals to create new reactions...and I liked to blow things up!" While Schrock had little memory of his two years playing trumpet and tuba, he later developed a great love of music and a fascination of its structure, complexity and beauty.

A conversation ensued among the scientists comparing the study of music to the study of science, and comparing the composition of music to the development of a hypothesis based scientific experiment. They observed that both science and music require a high degree of discipline, attention to detail and a basic skill level as a baseline--but that creativity comes when one takes a risk and challenges expectations.

The evening concluded with a more Mozart by the quartet and wine and hors d'oeuvres, provided by Hotel Marlowe, but many felt the conversation on creativity had just begun.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Joanna Porackova: Reflections on healing from the stage and at the bedside

On December 4, 2010, Longwood Symphony Orchestra will be joined again by internationally acclaimed soprano Joanna Porackova. Read her moving account of a life in healing - onstage and off.

After working for about 15 years as an intensive care nurse at Riley Hospital for Children, Childrens Hospital in Washington, DC. and the Boston Childrens Hospital, my goal was to complete my Master of Science degree in Parent Child Health Nursing so that I could teach nursing. Before pursuing my MS degree, while working in an adult Intensive Care and teaching nursing, I was accepted as a double major in Vocal performance at the Indiana University School of Music. I would teach nursing part time and then attend music classes.

What an adventure! I was also singing in the elite chorus at Indiana University, traveling to NY to perform. I then decided I would really concentrate on pursuing my Masters degree and moved to Boston. I received a federal traineeship grant to work in Parent Child Health. After receiving my MS degree I taught at BU, Mass College of Pharmacy and was Education Director at the Greenery Rehab Center (62 beds traumatic injury).

It was there that I formally combined my music and nursing by developing vocal programs for the brain injured. I have always sung to my patients and had a strong belief in the healing powers of the human voice. I started a research project observing the effects of the singing voice with brain injured clients.

It was during this time that my fellow nursing colleagues recommended that I study with a teacher at Boston Conservatory. I slowly got back into formal vocal study, and within four years or so of studying in NY with another teacher, Michael Trimble, I won a number of prestigious competitions... at the same time I was still teaching nursing! I would teach in the morning, and then drive to New York in the afternoon to attend Jerome Hines' Fellowship program Opera Music Theater International in the evening! I even sang Lady Macbeth in Verdi's MACBETH in NY after a week of teaching Nursing!

My voice career was launched and I sang all over the world: Paris Opera, Berlin Philharmonic, Salzburg Festival, Washington National Opera, and Hong Kong Opera, to name a few. When I returned home after a number of years singing in Europe, I wanted to get back into Nursing but without the stress. My daughter helped me find a job as a caregiver for the elderly with the Lexington Agency Homeinstead. I feel so grateful for my part-time work as a caregiver for elderly in the home. I have sung several programs at assisted living centers, but feel blessed to work on an individual basis-- not only giving home care, but using my voice in special ways to sing to and with my clients.

I continue my professional vocal life as well--I am returning to sing with the Berlin Philharmonic under the direction of Sir Simon Rattle in 2012 and look forward to singing with the Longwood Symphony in Dec. 2010 (both Wagner Programs). I feel so grateful that I have been able to combine my two careers of vocal performance and nursing. My intention in both careers is to offer healing. Each career has helped the other. When I sing a dramatic role, I use my experience as a nurse from all the wonderful clients who have helped me understand their lives--their courage, their heart, their love-- to find the depth in an opera role that I am singing. The music itself has also helped me understand the importance of vibration, color, dynamics, that can be used to heal. I have been called the singing nurse and I am proud of it!