Forget stuffy white coats and serious frowns. Two or three times in a year, these healthcare professionals put down their scalpels and stethoscopes and pick up musical instruments to perform as an orchestra.
First executed in 2007, proceeds from these shows go towards aid projects. This year’s beneficiary is Al Jalila Foundation in the UAE with the event held under the patronage of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Ahead of the World Doctors Orchestra performance at the Dubai Opera on March 22, Gulf News tabloid! spoke to some of the doctors who will perform at the first concert from the series in the region.
Stefan Willich, who is not only the former president of the Hanns Eisler School of Music Berlin but also one of the first members of the orchestra, says the healing power of music is undeniable.
“There is a relationship between the medical profession and the field of music and art in general, especially since there are many doctors who have shown creativity in the field of art around the world,” Willich says.
“There is an intense association between music and medicine including strong healing effects by artistic activity,” he explains.
The musician, who began playing violin at the age of six and who will take on the mantle of conductor at this edition, adds: “Medicine is closest to my brain whereas music is closest to my heart based on its overwhelming artistic and emotional power.”
Willich calls the group a “medical ambassador”. “The orchestra includes a total of over 1,200 participants from 50 countries, and about 80 doctors participate in each concert session based on their availability and the requirements of the music programme.”
The evening’s scorecard will be marked first by Positive Spirit, a performance inspired by a poem penned by Shaikh Mohammad. The melody is composed by Jonathan Barrett.
Barrett, the musical and general director of Dubai Chamber Orchestra, was drawn to the work because, he says, while the structure and presentation of the poem is simple, its message is “very powerful”.
“The idea that there is something inside of us that gives us the courage to do impossible things and work tirelessly until they are achieved. It’s simple and true, and I think more of us need to remember it.”
Barrett, who teaches at the Centre for Musical Arts in Dubai, says it took him about two months to do the work justice. He worked on it a few hours at a time, “between teaching and directing the orchestra and working through the weekends.”
But there is no rancour in his words. “That’s the life of a composer. You just accept it and give your life over to it,” he says.
Dedication to well-being is imperative to participate in this show.
Award-winning Polish violinist Klaudia Olborska-Szyma, 23, who is performing solo on the night, explains: “Music has been used as a healing implement for centuries and it is called music therapy.”
And so the rhythms that will ring out at the opera house after Positive Spirit, explains Willich, are “the wonderful violin concerto by Mendelssohn and the 5th Symphony by Beethoven”.
Listen for a good cause.
Don’t miss it!
Tickets for the show range between Dh250 to Dh950. All proceeds of the 24th World Doctors Orchestra charity concert will go to Al Jalila Foundation.