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Houston’s Orchestra on Call


By Texas Medical Center | August 19, 2014

Houston has a new orchestra that is shaping up to be a promising addition to our medical community: Houston’s Orchestra on Call.

Houston’s Orchestra on Call is a group of volunteer musicians that perform at hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, rehabilitation centers, medical schools and other health care facilities, health-related societies and associations in the Houston area. The mission of the Houston’s Orchestra on Call is to provide live musical performances for patients in order to enhance their lives as they go through the process of diagnosis, treatment, and recovery within a medical setting and to relieve emotional and mental stress in patients, families, doctors, staff and other health-allied professionals.

For patients and their families, musical experiences with the orchestra may help decrease anxiety, aid in expressing emotions and help to improve communication. For the musicians, in addition to experiencing the joy of making music in a community orchestra, they also experience the rewarding feeling of helping others in the recovery process by creating an uplifting environment through the healing art of music. The orchestra offers programs that provide opportunity for reflection, inspiration and education for the audience and the membership.

Houston’s Orchestra on Call core program is made up of two bodies: the Chamber Orchestra and the On Call musicians. The Chamber Orchestra provides live music for all kinds of hospitals and health care centers throughout the Houston area. Concerts take place in open spaces such as lobbies, lounges, halls, auditoriums and parks. The repertoire ranges from classical to jazz, folk, pops, show and seasonal; a number of these styles may be included within one concert.

The On Call program involves smaller ensembles (duos, trios, quartets or solos) comprised of members from the Chamber Orchestra but musicians outside the Chamber Orchestra are also welcome to join. Musicians may join as an ensemble, as solo players and/or make themselves available to join other musicians in the “on call” musicians pool. Concerts take place not only in open spaces but also in more intimate spaces like hospital wards, waiting rooms, day rooms and by the bedsides of patients.

The repertoire, selected by the musician(s), is tailored to suit the individual needs of the audience and setting. Consequently, musicians interact more closely with groups of patients, families and staff while performing relevant and meaningful music, helping the target audience meet physical, emotional and social needs in a more personal way.

“I believe music can greatly enhance the health and spiritual well being of our community. Enriching people’s lives through the art of music is one of the many gratifications that we as musicians can experience in our daily life. When the target audience is comprised of those trying to navigate our healthcare system, the feeling of musical and personal fulfillment is even greater,” said Carlos Guillermo Jung, the founder and director of the Houston’s Orchestra on Call. “I believe Houston’s Orchestra on Call will provide a much needed service for our community. Other organizations like Music in Hospitals in the United Kingdom, the Longwood Symphony Orchestra in Boston and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in Pennsylvania have all been very successful at implementing similar programs in their respective communities. Houston, boasting the largest medical center in the world, should offer a similar music program. Well, that’s what I’m striving for with Houston’s Orchestra on Call: to reach out to as many hospitals and health care centers as possible in order to bring the healing power of music to their people, staff, patients, families and visitors.”

Jung is also proud to launch a new music program at one of the most prestigious schools in Houston, DeBakey High School for Health Professions. As the music director of the DeBakey’s orchestra, Jung will be working with 30 to 40 students from 9th grade through 12th grade selected after a rigorous audition process. Selected students from the DeBakey orchestra will also be invited to participate in the Houston’s Orchestra on Call programs.

“Students will be able to interact and connect with musicians of all ages, different backgrounds and careers and most importantly, give back to the community by performing for audiences in different medical settings,” Jung remarked.

Musicians interested in joining Houston’s Orchestra on Call may apply online at www.orchestraoncall.org .

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