The Providence Medical Orchestra holds its first concert this Saturday.
If you walk through the halls of the Warren Alpert Medical School on a Tuesday evening, you might just catch the sweeping notes of Beethoven’s First Symphony, as a newly minted collection of medical professionals and students rehearse for their first performance as a symphony orchestra.
Chris Demas MD’21 says the idea came together this past summer. He picked up the violin in fourth grade and played in orchestras and string ensembles through college.
Eager to continue performing in medical school, last year Demas co-directed Healing Through Harmony, a group of volunteers who play music in local hospitals for patients and their families. He also helped organize Musicale, an annual concert where medical students, residents, and physicians share their musical talents.
“I thought it was so wonderful that everyone came together for Musicale,” Demas says. “But I was also disappointed because it was just one day. I felt there was so much potential from our community. I always had the thought in the back of my mind of ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could do something more frequently as a community?’”
That opportunity came when Demas learned of John Masko’s move to the Providence area. Masko is the former assistant director of the Yale Medical Symphony Orchestra, which was founded 10 years ago. “It was the perfect opportunity,” Demas says.
With funding from the Medical School and Masko’s help, Demas and his co-presidents, Daniel Yang ’19 MD’23 and Alice Huang MD’22, assembled a full orchestra of more than 40 people. Participants range from first-year PLME students to attending physicians. That diversity helps facilitate a very open and receptive environment, Demas says.
“It’s a really great way to break down those boundaries in medicine. We might have world-renowned researchers sitting next to medical students, but they share the same passion for making great music. It puts everyone on the same playing field,” he says. “Underlying our passion in music, we’re all these people who are working together and will be working together in the future. So it’s this really great way of connecting with each other.”
Medical students and professionals are very busy people. But, Demas says, “You make time for the things you love. I knew that if I stopped doing things like music, I wouldn’t be able to do as well. You need your outlet.” The group tries to make rehearsals as accessible as possible, holding them at the Medical School in the evenings after most physicians and students are done with clinic.
“I think it’s really therapeutic to do something that allows you to have meaningful conversations with other people,” Demas says. “It’s a great space for sharing stories and for learning from one another.”
The Providence Medical Orchestra will hold its first concert on 7-9 p.m. December 8, 2018, at Sayles Hall. Tickets are free for students with an ID and $5 for all others. Reserve your ticket here.