Doctors from around the world have put down their scalpels and stethoscopes to pick up instruments of another kind to form the World Doctors Orchestra. The orchestra was formed to support the development of medical care and health policy in the world. Faculty from the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine is represented by 13 doctors in the orchestra.
A local audience will hear these talented musicians when they perform their first American concert to benefit the Free Medical Clinic of Cleveland and the Hugo Templeman Foundation on Sunday, Feb. 8, at 3 p.m. in Severance Hall. The event is sponsored by the School of Medicine and University Hospitals.
These medical colleagues from around the globe will be joined by students from the Cleveland Institute of Music and Baldwin-Wallace College.
Among the medical faculty in the orchestra is Jonathan Lass, who has played the cello since the fourth grade. The renowned ophthalmologist and researcher at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and chair of ophthalmology at University Hospitals will share the concert stage with 76 other musicians—all doctors like himself.
"This is truly a world orchestra," Lass said. "We understand why this was put together. It's used to promote global health. It's a way to get humanism back into medicine. We truly are concerned about the health of patients and the prevention of disease."
Lass says the relationship between music and medicine might be about "caring for people and bringing joy through caring." He also is a member of the Circle Quintet, a piano quintet, which includes other Case Western Reserve faculty. They meet regularly and perform for benefits for such organizations as Judson Manor Retirement Community.
Lass said he picked up the cello after his older sister stopping playing and the instrument was available.
"There was a cello around the house, and I picked it up and loved it," he said. "I was very active in elementary school and high school. I really enjoyed it, but I didn't want to go into music professionally. I saw all these happy physicians enjoying their music, and that's what I wanted to do."
Instead, he pursued ophthalmology and the rest is his own personal history.
The orchestra will present Aaron Copland's Outdoor Overture from 1938, Beethoven's Triple Concerto, Op. 56, and the Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68, by Johannes Brahms. They will be joined by three world-class soloists from the Cleveland Institute of Music: Annie Fullard (violin), Sergei Babayan (piano) and Saeunn Thorsteinsdottir (violincello).
Founded in 2007 by Dr. Stefan Willich, a renowned German physician, the WDO is an international organization of physicians who are accomplished amateur musicians.
Willich's day job is leading the Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics at the Charité University Medical Center in Berlin, the largest medical school in Europe. He also is an experienced and avid musician who studied conducting, violin and chamber music in Berlin, Paris and Boston.
The orchestra held its premiere concert in May 2008 at the Chamber Music Hall of the Berlin Philharmonic, where Lass also performed.
It chose Cleveland for its American debut in part because of Lass, the Charles I. Thomas Professor and chairman of the department of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the School of Medicine and director of the University Hospitals Eye Institute.
Proceeds from the concert will benefit two selected nonprofit medical aid organizations, including the Free Medical Clinic in Cleveland, which is currently one of very few health care facilities in Northeast Ohio that offers completely free care to uninsured or underinsured adults. The other is the Hugo Templeman Foundation, which operates the only hospital available to the 160,000 people of Elandsdoorn, a township in South Africa.
Fourteen of the doctors performing, including Lass, are also local practicing physicians. All but one of the doctors also have academic appointments at the School of Medicine. In addition to Lass, they include:
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine:
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine/University Hospitals:
The Cleveland Clinic:
MetroHealth Medical Center:
Louis Stokes VA Medical Center:
Listen to the World Doctors Orchestra during its inauguration concert at the Berlin Philharmonic Hall. The first mp3 selection is Ludwig van Beethoven, Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D major, op. 61 from the 1st movement. The second mp3 selection is Antonin Dvorak, Symphony No. 9 in E minor ("From the New World"), op. 95 from the 1st movement.
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