IUSM Orchestra opens new season with fall concert

The IU School of Medicine Orchestra.

The musical talent and passion of many students at the IU School of Medicine were on display during a performance Nov. 11 in downtown Indianapolis.

The Indiana University School of Medicine Orchestra hosted its fall concert at the newly renovated Indiana Landmark Center. This year’s opening performance, conducted by David Schurger, included classical pieces such as the Egmont Overture by Ludwig van Beethoven, Chaconne in G Minor by Henry Purcell and In The Hall of the Mountain King by Edvard Grieg.

“It’s great to see how much the orchestra has grown — and how much more comfortable the members have become,” said Kate Mayhew, a third-year medical student who plays the violin. “Our conductor has done an amazing job transforming a bunch of busy doctors and students into a polished orchestra.”

The group has come a long way since hosting its first concert at the Indiana History Center in the summer of 2010. Established under the Creative Art Therapy Student Interest Group in the Office of Medical Service-Learning, the orchestra now boasts more than 30 members with complete string, woodwind, brass and percussion sections.

This is also one of the first concerts after the orchestra opened to students from across the health sciences, including dental, nursing and pre-medical students.

“We already partner with them professionally,” Mayhew said. “It’s only appropriate to collaborate outside of the classroom as well.”

This year’s fall concert opened with two vocal pieces by Frank Loesser and the Beatles, performed by the IU School of Medicine’s student a cappella group, “Progress Notes.” The performance also included the orchestra’s first solo, performed by mezzo-soprano Maria Solis, a second-year medical student.

“With all the research about how music strengthens the brain, I’m not surprised so many medical students are musically talented,” said Schurger, who also serves as a private music instructor. “For some students in our group, playing is simply part of who they are. If you’ve played an instrument since you were 5, it’s kind of hard to put it down.”

Mayhew, who played an instrument throughout high school, remained an avid participate in community orchestras throughout her undergraduate years at Ball State.

“Music’s been a part of my life my whole life… I was very excited that the medical school had an orchestra when I was looking at schools,” she said. “After my very first exam, I said ‘I need an outlet.’”

Schurger agreed the music’s ability to sooth the soul of the frazzled medical student is a common theme.

I think this is a release for them — it lets them clear their brain for two hours,” he said. “Plus their work ethic is outstanding; they want to make it absolutely perfect.”

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