During the the 2019-2020 season, we have been marking our 10th anniversary. Although our in-person celebrations have been cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, we invite you on a virtual journey through the first decade of the Durham Medical Orchestra. Travel with us as we revisit some of our most memorable performances and share a few never-before-public recordings of our concerts. We wish you the best of health and look forward to playing for you again soon.

Click the “play” button to travel in a musical time machine with Artistic Director and Conductor Dr. Verena Mösenbichler-Bryant.

DMO members remember the first 10 seasons

During the sound check for the concert that included Elgar’s “Enigma Variations,” Jamie Walker noticed his cello endpin set screw no longer worked. Fortunately, there was just enough time before curtain for me to hand him my instrument and dash home to get my old cello. When I got it out backstage, I discovered that the A string had been removed, and I was putting on a spare just as Dr. Dzau wandered by and wanted to talk about how he enjoyed the orchestra being made up of medical people. I really needed to concentrate on putting on a new string!

— Stuart McCracken, cello
The DMO rehearses before its first concert in 2010. Photo: Courtesy of Stuart McCracken

Playing a concert for the opening of the Duke Cancer Center in February 2012 is the epitome of my experiences playing violin in the DMO. Seated on the healing path at the bottom of the glassed-in staircase leading up through patient care areas, we could see patients, their families, and staff mesmerized by our beautiful music soaring up through the lofty space.

— Lindsay Lambe, violin
The DMO performs at the opening of the Duke Cancer Center. Photo: Eric Monson

One of my favorite memories with the DMO is the concert we played at the Duke Cancer Center. It centered our mission to bring the healing power of the arts to people who need it most, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity we had to do so.

— Lydia Coulter Kwee, violin
Courtesy of Lydia Coulter Kwee

I vividly remember the amount of joy that filled me once we started playing. That first rehearsal reminded me how much I enjoy being a part of an orchestra. I think these two things are what I miss the most at the moment: the sense of being a part of something bigger and the support group of people who share a common passion for playing music.

— Anna Loksztejn, flute and piccolo
Courtesy of Thomas Shaffer

From the first rehearsal, I have thoroughly enjoyed the rehearsals  Verena has put together. (even though I received some unpleasant but deserved looks from the conductor).

— Thomas Shaffer, horn
Courtesy of Julie Nettifee

One of my first seasons with the orchestra, we had the opportunity to learn and perform “City Trees” by Michael Markowski. This work resonated with me so much, with my struggle, the journey and development of my son, as well as myself — breaking through to new beginnings. I am so grateful to be a part of this incredible orchestra, and have since the beginning of my time with the DMO known this to be such a gift to us all.

— Julie Nettifee, violin
Click the “play” button to hear the DMO performing “City Trees” by Michael Markowski.

It was December 2017. I was unsure if I would make it to our Baldwin performance, as my family was living through a difficult health scare. It felt selfish and inappropriate to even think of performing. My family encouraged me and my guilt-ridden shell of a body appeared on stage. When the performance began, a rush of emotion blanketed me. I will never be able to truly explain to anyone what happened on that stage for me that day, but the performance lifted me into a safe space with so much comfort and a quiet, reassuring strength that I had not realized that I needed at the time. It is a #forevermemory for me.

— Jinky Rosselli, violin
Click the “play” button to hear Meredith Achey and the DMO performing “All Stars Are Love” by Steven Bryant.

My grandfather told me before he passed away, when I was still planning a career in classical singing, “You can sing in medical school!” Thank you all for giving me the opportunity to finally prove him right.

— Meredith Achey, soprano
Children watch magician Dr. Magic at the DMO’s 2019 “Magic of Music” concert. Photo: Eric Monson

I will never forget the look of complete empowerment on the face of a young person with Down’s syndrome when the sound of the orchestra became a result of his conducting. I have really missed playing with the orchestra and hope we can soon safely resume playing and performing together. It has enriched my life immensely and I treasure the moments of sharing with each other and our audience.

— Sarah Ringel MD, viola
A young audience member at the DMO’s 2019 “Magic of Music” concert learns how to conduct. Photo: Eric Monson

One of my favorite memories of playing with the DMO was the kids’ concert in 2019. The concert theme: magic! The orchestra and the audience had the chance to interact throughout the program, with many entertaining activities and special guests throughout the show. This type of concert is what makes being part of the DMO so special.

— Allison Dickey, violin
A young concert attendee takes a bow after her turn conducting. Photo: Eric Monson

The enthusiasm of the young attendees at the orchestra’s performance of “Harry Potter,” various Broadway show tunes, and the encore of a medley from the movie “Frozen” evoked genuine screams and thunderous applause that likely made many of the listeners fans of symphonic music for life.

— Bruce Klitzman, trumpet
The DMO rehearses before a December 2018 performance in Baldwin Auditorium. Photo: Eric Monson

I love the feeling of the last week before a DMO performance, as our group pulls together to play better than we have before, through dress rehearsals in the lovely acoustics of Baldwin and then especially when inspired by the happy energy that comes from our wonderful audience. The orchestra is so much more than a coordinated collection of individual musicians — we become one organism playing music, and that is magic!

— Marisa D’Silva, flute
Courtesy of Liz Holoman

I remember 2018 fondly, as this was the year I had Felicia A. from [DMO partner] KidzNotes as my stand partner. I loved having Felicia playing with me, and we both learned so much that year. A favorite memory is when I showed her how to ricochet bow, and I’ll never forget the look on her face when she saw her bow start bouncing!

— Liz Holoman, violin
Courtesy of Jinky Ang Rosselli

File this under, “Old Dog, New Tricks!” When we began rehearsals for “Itaipu” and “Deep Field” in January of 2019, I could not imagine how any work inspired by a South American hydroelectric project or a space telescope could be actual MUSIC. I was so, so wrong! These two are probably my all-time favorites of anything we have played.

— Susan Kundert, oboe and English horn
The DMO on stage with the Durham Choral Society. Photo: Alex Yeh

I will never forget performing “Itaipu” with the Durham Choral Society in 2019 — it was pure magic!

—Kate Wilkin, viola

Performing Eric Whitaker’s “Deep Field” with a full audience and everyone in the concert hall participating in the music was an amazing moment for me! DMO connects us with our audience and community in this meaningful, unique way.

— Nick Bandarenko, clarinet

My favorite memory of DMO is when we played “Deep Field” by Eric Whitacre. It was such a magical moment at performance that I believe was really felt among the musicians, singers, and audience.

— Alan Cota-Leija, percussion

I so value being able to play really challenging and non-traditional repertory like this. The DMO has given me more chances than most volunteer groups to really challenge myself. And feeling that the capacity audiences we had for both of those pieces really sensed and appreciated the total commitment of the musicians to these difficult works was very satisfying, too!

— Kathy Silbiger, trumpet
Click the “play” button to hear the DMO performing “Danse Bacchanale” by
Camille Saint-Saëns.

Being part of an orchestra has been a wonderful experience. Verena has such an incredible ability to bring out the best in all of us to create a beautiful sound. I have also enjoyed getting to play not only on the piano but also on the celesta – it’s such a magical instrument!

— Yvonne Acker, piano, keyboard, celesta
Courtesy of Jennifer Reid

One of the highlights for me was our performance of Berlioz’s “Symphonie fantastique.” In the final moments, especially on the last page, I was overwhelmed a sense of achievement as we were coming to the end of one of the most challenging orchestral pieces I’ve ever played. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

— Jennifer Reid, violin
Courtesy of Nicholas Bandarenko

When you play clarinet in the orchestra, you usually aim for a beautiful sound that is as controlled and elegant as a ballerina. But I also took great pleasure in performing Berlioz’s “Symphonie fantastique” on the Eb clarinet — the piccolo of the clarinet family — where the object was to produce a rowdy, piercing sound that cut across the orchestra, dancing like a grotesque demon.

—Sara Peach, clarinet
Courtesy of Elliot Anderson

This is my second season with the orchestra, but so far my favorite memory is having my bow snap in half during the Beethoven Egmont overture in our December 2019 concert. Glad I had a spare bow with me! I think when the day comes that we’re able to play together again, the musical energy is going to be out-of-this-world!

— Elliot Anderson, cello
Click the “play” button to hear a virtual performance of “The Machine Awakes” by Steven Bryant.

The challenge of playing difficult music has brought with it deep satisfaction, gratitude, friendships and happiness. Music playing soothes one’s soul, enlivens the mind and creates community. Thank you, DMO. We will be back together soon!

– anonymous DMO member

Unlike most of the DMO players, I’m a semi-retired professional musician. Seeing how incredibly hard everyone works, and observing their extremely high standards (for what isn’t even their primary occupation) has been enormously humbling and inspiring to me, both as a musician and as a human being. Literally every day of the pandemic, I’ve prayed that everyone is OK.

— anonymous DMO member