Flash mob music performance strikes the right chord at Dana-Farber


Longwood Symphony Orchestra hits a 'high' note with patients

Ten musicians from the Longwood Symphony Orchestra used their lunch hour on Thursday, Nov. 17 to offer a little "music therapy" with a flash mob performance at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Yawkey Center for Cancer Care.

The impromptu performance started with one musician, who was sitting on the second floor balcony of the Yawkey Center's lobby, and expanded to include other musicians on the first floor. The unannounced concert produced looks of surprise on the faces of patients and staff, many of whom stopped what they were doing to enjoy the performance.

The musicians, who work in healthcare and biotechnology institutions in and around Boston's Longwood Medical Area, casually entered the Yawkey Center and discreetly sat in chairs located throughout the first and second floors. Many of the performers were dressed in surgical scrubs and lab coats.

At precisely 12:30 pm, Mark Tomko, who is a software engineer at the Broad Institute and a bassist in the Longwood Symphony Orchestra, played the first eight bars of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 as a soloist. He was then joined by three cello players on the first floor. Eight bars later, all 10 musicians were playing, filling the Yawkey Center's first two stories with music.

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Patients and staff, curious about the source of the music, wandered to the balcony of the second floor to get a glimpse of the musicians scattered randomly around the first floor. "What a treat. It made my whole day," said one patient on her way to chemotherapy. "It was amazing. It brought tears to my eyes," echoed another who was just checking in at patient services.

Brian S. Jantz, MT-BC, a music therapist at the Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies at Dana-Farber, said he was thrilled when a member of the Longwood Symphony Orchestra approached him with the offer of the flash mob-style performance.

"Music connects people to their sense of creativity and in a way cancer can't touch that," says Jantz. “When you bring music into a patient's day, it can really give them hope, brighten their outlook, and generally help them feel better."

"As medical professionals, we enjoy getting out into the medical community and being able to bring a little joy to patients," said Sherman Jia, who is a violinist and a medical student at Harvard Medical School. "We wanted to do something out of the ordinary, surprising, and have it be fun for everyone involved."

By the look on the faces of those lucky enough to be in the lobby of Dana-Farber, the LSO provided a harmonious moment to remember.

The Longwood Symphony Orchestra's 29th season continues with a concert on Saturday, December 3, 2011 at 8 p.m. at New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall. Guest conductor Edward Jones leads the LSO in a program featuring violinist Bella Hristova performing Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto, as well as works by Weber and Schumann. This concert benefits the Sharewood Project, a free health care organization led by students and faculty of Tufts University School of Medicine. Individual concert tickets range from $13 to $60. Visit www.longwoodsymphony.org or call the LSO at (617) 667-1527 to learn more about the performance.

Longwood Symphony Orchestra established in 1982, is a distinctive organization in Boston's cultural landscape recognized for its musical quality, innovative programming, and unique business model of community engagement. Positioned at the crossroads of the arts and the sciences, the orchestra's membership is composed mainly of healthcare professionals, including doctors, medical students, research scientists, nurses, therapists, and other caregivers. Each of the concerts on the LSO's four concert series at New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall features a talented guest conductor vying for the position of LSO Music Director and a winner of the renowned Young Concert Artists international auditions as soloist. Each concert also benefits a Boston-area health-related nonprofit organization. Follow the LSO on Facebook: facebook.com/longwoodsymphonyorchestra. 

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