Alumni in Action: Hope and Healing
Recently, we started this column as a way to highlight the inspiring work of alumni during this global pandemic. We’re here today with a few more incredible updates, keep your tissues handy! Alumni, please continue to send updates to email@example.com.
Dr. Rachel Easterwood appeared on From the Top in 2001 on Show 46 performing from von Weber’s clarinet concerto. She continued to pursue a career as a clarinetist, attending New England Conservatory and Manhattan School of Music before deciding that she wanted to go into medicine. Today, Rachel is an ICU doctor at New York-Presbyterian Allen Hospital, serving Covid-19 patients in the one of the busiest hospitals in New York. Through these tough months, Rachel has turned to music for solace, and helped bring musical performances to her colleagues and patients by connecting them with musician friends on FaceTime. Her hospital is now connected with Project: Music Heals Us, a nonprofit founded by violist Molly Carr and co-directed by Andrew Janss (Andrew, has worked with From the Top in the past as an arranger) that organizes free classical concerts in nursing homes, hospices, prisons, homeless shelters and refugee centers. At Allen Hospital, Project: Music Heals Us gives virtual concerts to patients and staff.
Violinist Caeli Smith appeared on From the Top’s radio and television programs as a teen and is now a professional musician in New York. She is also connected to Rachel’s story, as she is one of the musicians giving concerts to patients through Project: Music Heals Us.
She wrote for Violinist.com: “On Monday afternoon, I gave what was probably the most peculiar and special concert of my life. I performed alone in my bedroom, for an audience of one – someone I don’t know, couldn’t see, and will never meet, who was lying in a hospital bed in Brooklyn.
Our facilitator told me that the patient was shy, so our FaceTime call was audio-only. I started playing solo Bach. This was also the first time in a long time that I felt so joyful while playing – perhaps because it was my first chance to share somewhat-live music since the lockdown started in NYC.”
Pianist Andrew Li is also making the most of this time to give to others, virtually. He writes:
“The Show Must Go On” is a Harvard MIHNUET project created by Rachel Chau and Andrew Li. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were devastated that we had to stop visiting and sharing music with residents in nursing homes around Cambridge. As a result, we came up with the idea of compiling and sending musical performances of MIHNUET members to our beloved residents, continuing our mission virtually. With 20 performances from 16 resident team members, “The Show Must Go On” demonstrates the unifying power of music during these worrying times. The project highlights a diverse range of music, ranging from classical works like Brahms and Bach to timeless hits like Frank Sinatra and Billy Joel. We are incredibly excited to send these videos to nursing homes around Cambridge, supporting senior citizens and easing the anxiety they must be feeling with music. We have partnered with the Phillips Brooks House Association to share our work with local nursing homes, but we want to expand even more. We think “The Show Must Go On” has the potential to inspire and comfort not only senior citizens, but also parents and children across the country. We hope From the Top will share “The Show Must Go On” with their listeners so we can instill the hope, joy, and peace music brings with the world during these difficult times!”
Learn more at MIHNUET’s website: http://www.hcs.harvard.edu/mihnuet/
Violinist Jonathan Miron is an alum of shows 93, 211 & 286 is addressing the issues of gun violence through an upcoming performance. He says:
“I’m reaching out to share news about an upcoming video release from my duo, ARKAI. Releasing across platforms on May 30, this is ARKAI’s debut music video of our original composition, ‘Aurora’ — initially composed for the occasion of The Peace Studio’s 2018 Peace First Summit, organized by Maya Soetoro-Ng (President Obama’s sister) and featuring young entrepreneurs and peace advocates (including students from Parkland High School).
Written in reflection on the gun violence tragedies of 2018, ‘Aurora’ charts a human journey from lament to reckoning to hopeful triumph — a message that we find resonant in today’s challenging circumstances. I hope you find inspiration and hope in this music!