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Sweet Sounds

Musician Thanks Mayo Clinic Through ‘Dr. Tango’ Performance

Lewis Lipnick thought his music playing days were over. The principal contrabassoonist for the National Symphony Orchestra at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts had become blind in his right eye and had developed a condition in his left eye that was threatening to end his career. With his music-playing days at stake, he was unable to find a surgeon willing to operate.

So the professional musician came to Mayo Clinic’s Rochester, Minnesota, campus at the recommendation of his friend and music director, Christoph Eschenbach.

Lewis says he was “directed to a very fine young surgeon” who was willing to help. The surgeon performed the corrective eye surgery “beautifully” and without complication.

“From then on, I’ve trusted Mayo Clinic with all of my health care,” Lewis says.

Inspiration struck Lewis on a recent return to Mayo Clinic. He decided he wanted to do something to show his gratitude for everything his care teams at Mayo had done for him by staging a concert.

“When I asked some of our Mayo staff musicians if they’d be interested, they were unanimously enthusiastic,” says Johanna S. Rian, Ph.D., program director of the Dolores Jean Lavins Center for Humanities in Medicine. So, too, was the public. More than 300 people turned out for the concert and gave the performance a standing ovation at the night’s conclusion.

The center supports Mayo Clinic’s mission by integrating the arts and other expressions of human culture into the healing environment, which includes music, visual art, dance, theater, creative writing and more for patients, families, staff and the public.

Musicians for the December 2016 event included Rohin A. Aggarwal (euphonium), Allen T. Bishop, M.D. (oboe), J. Michael Bostwick, M.D. (clarinet), Christopher J. Jankowski, M.D. (trumpet), Grace Y. Kim (violin), Matthew R. Schuelke (French horn), Tiffany M. Strande (violin) and Mimi C. Tung (piano).

Presented by the Lavins Center for Humanities in Medicine, the concert included musical selections by composers such as Baldwin, Beethoven and Mozart, as well as the world premiere of a piece of music commissioned specifically for the concert called Dr. Tango by Noelia Escalzo, a composer from Argentina.

“We knew this would be a very special concert, but we weren’t prepared for the breathtaking beauty of Noelia’s compositions and the superb musicianship of the entire ensemble,” Dr. Rian says. “We expected Lewis to be brilliant, but it was such a delight to see our staff and student musicians, and all members of the ensemble, meet his level of professionalism. This, with the fact that the concert was dedicated to Mayo Clinic in gratitude for Lewis’ care, made it very moving.”

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