Arts & Culture

Med School musicians take talent to stage

Contributing Writer
Monday, December 3, 2012

United by their joint passions for medicine and music, a select group of Alpert Medical School students and faculty members traded their white coats and stethoscopes for musical instruments Friday, showcasing their talents at the seventh annual BioMed Concert to a nearly full Martinos Auditorium.

Many of the medical students and faculty members who performed were “actual musicians, but decided to devote their lives to medicine,” said concert organizer Donna Arruda, events manager for the office of medical student affairs. 

Associate Dean for Medical Education Philip Gruppuso, who also organized the event, said the musicians were excited to perform in the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts. In past years the concert has been held in Alumnae Hall.

“The sound is much better. It’s a more intimate setting and just a wonderful building. It was a real privilege to hold the concert there,” he said.

Students were also involved in organizing the event, Arruda said, adding that several were hired to run lighting and sound.

The music selection was diverse and included classical voice and piano performances, an acoustic medley of current popular music, group jazz pieces and original songs, including “Little Sister” by VyVy Trinh MD’16, which she introduced as “for my favorite person in the world – my little sister.” The song “melted my heart,” said Michelle Daniel, assistant professor of emergency medicine, and drew tears from some audience members.

In past years participation was open to all faculty members, but this year marked the first time that the focus was mainly on the students’ talents. While there were only two faculty member performances, the concert showcased the collaboration between medical faculty and their students and allowed them to see each other in a new light.

It is “very interesting to see your professors there performing,” since it can be “hard to imagine them outside of lecture,” said performer Rudy Chen ’15, a Program in Liberal Medical Education student.

“All you really get to know about people is their interest and abilities in medicine, but people come to (medical) school with many talents,” said Grayson Armstrong MD’14.

This year’s performers were chosen through an interview process and based on their musical background, Arruda said. While all Med School and PLME students receive an email inviting them to participate, the performance is “not a variety show” but a formal concert. Students who participated have studied music since they were young, Arruda said. 

While the audience consisted mainly of medical students, there were other faculty and Brown community members in attendance. “There’s a lot of talent,” said Deborah Samos, a Providence resident who works as a standardized patient with the medical students.

Armstrong said performing in the concert was a simple decision. He majored in music as an undergraduate, but “it’s pretty rare to use those talents in medical school,” he said.

“It’s been a while since I’ve had the time to invest in singing,” said Daniel, who sang George Gershwin’s “Summertime” with Jordan Thompson MD’16 on guitar. She added that it is challenging to engage in medicine and music at the same time.

Arruda summarized the event with a quote from Med School alum David Washington ’07 MD’11, who said, “Medicine is my profession, but music is my mistress.”