Tuesday, May 15, 2012: Medical Musicians

Opus Osm

Med students Šárka Hintenausová (l) and Ludmila Kozáková (r) will perform on sax and piano at the concert.

Medical Musicians:
Med Students Perform in the Concert (not Just the Operating) Theatre

It’s fair to assume that doctors have sensitive hands (many become surgeons, certainly). And excellent ears (they’re the ones with the stethoscopes, after all). But you might not assume that some doctors – or more precisely, medical students – are also very accomplished musicians.

Medical students of the Second Medical Faculty of Charles University in Prague-Motol will take to the concert stage Thurs, May 17. You’ll be able to hear them perform classical, jazz, and pop music, and for the first time, even a poetry reading in their latest concert in a series.

The “On Waves of Inspiration” (Na Vlnách Inspirace) series started in May 2011, when about 15 students from the faculty performed at the Czech Museum of Music. They decided to organize charity concerts to benefit the Motol teaching hospital.

“The amount of money that comes from concert donation fees can hardly help the hospital cover its running costs,” explains medical student and pianist Michal Svoboda, one of the original 15 founders. “On the other hand, there are many active doctors who organize social programs for their patients. Helping them is one of the objectives of our concerts,” he tells Opus Osm.

“For example, Dr Obermannová, a postgraduate student in diabetes in the Pediatrics Clinic, organizes a summer camp for diabetic children. Donations from our project help her buy prizes for children who win a race or competition at the camp.”

This Thursday’s concert is only the third in the “Wave,” but it will be much bigger than the previous ones, he promises. More students have applied for participation, in more genres of music. So a “Wave” concert can feature not only classical solo, chamber music, and orchestral music; vocal music such as arias, folk songs, and chamber music; but also can include jazz, Argentinian tango, pop music, and more.

“Actually, there aren’t two musicians in our faculty who play or sing the same repertoire,” he notes.

The expanding concert program also requires a change of venue, since the Czech Museum of Music is no longer larger enough to hold everyone. “We needed a stage with good acoustic properties that is big enough for the symphonic orchestra. That’s why we moved to Taussigova Elementary School of Arts, which is endowed with a perfect great hall and an excellent Fazioli piano,” Mr Svoboda says. “My dream is to cooperate with other faculties of Charles University and increase the number of concerts in the next years.”

Opus Osm

Michal Svoboda

There are other objectives. One is to increase in the number of faculty events. Perhaps more importantly, many students who attended music schools do not want to forget their skills, Mr Svoboda explains. As you might expect, these students are really keen on performing, using their music experience, and delighting their friends with music.

Last but not least, the future doctor says, a concert is a good occasion for presenting one’s mastery. He describes how he chose to play Schumann’s Concerto in A Minor in the upcoming concert. “In March 2012, I had the fortune to win third prize at the International Smetana Piano Competition,” he says. “After playing the Schumann in the final round, I realized that it was a pity not to have the opportunity to play it more times, in front of my friends.

“I decided to play it at ‘The Waves of Inspiration’ and to ask an orchestra to accompany me.”

The Vinohrady Symphonic Orchestra conducted by Milan Boušek, agreed.

There are many stereotypes about MDs and med students, but being accomplished, award-winning musicians is not one of them. So how do the famously over-stressed students with little personal time manage to squeeze music into their medical repertoire?

“The question doesn’t consist of the length of our leisure time,” the fifth-year student Svoboda says. “The question is: do the artists have an internal inspiration that must be transmitted to the audience? In some cases, our students really suffer from an excess of internal stress from inspiration – and the opportunity to perform is a relief for them.”

He underscores the students’ qualifications as musicians: “Many of our students are also alumni of music conservatories, music gymnazia, and even the Academy of Performing Arts!” he emphasizes.

But since “On Waves of Inspiration” was founded by Mr Svoboda and his colleagues who are now approaching their final years as students, will it disband when this group graduates?

“I do not think so,” he says. “I cannot guess what will happen in a few years, and the project is too young to make conclusions. But I can tell you that more and more first year students apply for participation. There are a few younger students who help me with the organization, and I believe one of them will take it over after I graduate.”

As he emphasizes, their serious performing “brings the same feelings to medical students as to the others – inexpressible delight and goose bumps.

“That’s why we do it.”

“On Waves of Inspiration” will be held Thurs, May 17 at 7 pm at the elementary school of arts, Taussigova 1150, Prague 8, near the Ládví metro station. Admission is by donation.– oo

– Mary Matz

Photo Credits: "On Waves of Inspiration," Michal Svoboda

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