The doctors are in...tune

The doctors are in...tune McGill University

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McGill Reporter
November 23, 2006 - Volume 39 Number 07
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Home > McGill Reporter > Volume 39: 2006-2007 > November 23, 2006 > The doctors are in...tune

The doctors are in...tune

Caption follows

The members of I Medici di McGill escape the lab for a rehearsal.
Owen Egan

Fans of classical music, mark your calendars. On Monday, Nov. 27, the I Medici di McGill orchestra will present a benefit concert in collaboration with the Student Section of the Québec Medical Association (QMA), with proceeds going toward the Québec Bursary Fund.

I Medici di McGill is not your run-of-the-mill orchestra. It is a remarkable union of music and medicine. Founded in 1989 by Dr Ante L. Padjen, a professor of pharmacology who remains the orchestra's director and principal viola player, I Medici is made up of some 60 musicians, most of whom are professors or students at McGill's Faculty of Medicine. They perform great music, presenting medical professionals in a different, more human light. And they do some good deeds while they are at it.

Padjen believes that the connections between music and medicine are numerous and deep, and has made them part of his academic research of I Medici's activities, as exemplified by a series of "Biology of Music" lectures which he has organized since 1990. The goal of the series is to "explore and illuminate the many links between medicine and music." The analogy between music and medicine is not a trivial one; it is a marriage with deep philosophical roots. "Music, like medicine, exists as a total experience, phenomenon," says Padjen.

"In medicine, no part of our understanding of humans makes any sense unless it is put in the whole context. It is the same thing within musical experience. No one element of musical composition makes much sense unless it is also seen as part of the whole." Such is the experience of the members of I Medici with renowned Maestro Iwan Edwards, who has led the orchestra since 2000.

The orchestra has come a long way from its humble beginnings — 14 musicians playing only string instruments. Today, the group is a complete musical ensemble more than four times its original size. Throughout the years, more than 250 medical musicians have performed over 130 concerts for an estimated 25,000-plus enthusiastic listeners. They have recorded 16 CDs and have played live everywhere from hospitals to faculty meetings, convocations to fund-raisers — and usually for a good cause.

That will certainly be the case on Nov. 27. The money raised will be used to finance scholarships for students in all four faculties of medicine in the province. QMA Student Section President Frantz-Daniel Lafortune, who initiated the project, underlined the importance of support for students in financial need. There is a growing fear that medical students' career choice may be too heavily influenced by their debt load, forcing them to shy away from areas that pay less but direly need doctors. "Accessibility to medical school is something we cherish. We don't think money should be an issue if you are competent to be a doctor."

The Canadian Medical Foundation has agreed to match the funds collected at the event, which organizers hope will become an annual tradition.

Under Maestro Edwards' stewardship, I Medici di McGill will be performing classical and French romantic works in the Oscar Peterson Concert Hall, at the Loyola Campus of Concordia University.

Further information can be found at www.imedici.mcgill.ca. To reserve your tickets, please call 514-276-9038.

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