A partnership between UNO and UNMC is bringing new opportunities for musical engagement between the campuses with a new orchestra at UNMC that will launch this fall.
Faculty, staff and students at UNMC and the Nebraska Medical Center are being invited to be part of the orchestra -- the brainchild of UNMC's Matt Rizzo, M.D., a cellist who saw a vibrant version of a campus orchestra while at the University of Iowa, and Washington Garcia, D.M.A., concert pianist and director of UNO’s School of Music, which is part of the College of Communication, Fine Arts and Media.
"This can provide enormous benefits to institutional culture, morale and mental health, and, you don't have to be Paganini to play," said Rizzo, chair of the UNMC Department of Neurological Sciences and director of the Mind & Brain Health Initiative. "Music also is highly relevant to our mind and brain health and community engagement initiatives."
Through a partnership with UNO’s School of Music, the orchestra will play under the baton of Matthew Brooks, D.M.A., director of orchestras at UNO. Players of all orchestral instruments (woodwinds, strings, percussion and brass) are needed. All are welcome to play with no audition required.
"Anything we do that enriches our exposure to the humanities will have a positive impact on all of us . . . not to mention increase the fun quotient on campus," said Steven Wengel, M.D., assistant vice chancellor for campus wellness for UNO and UNMC.
Studies show that rates of burnout, depression, anxiety and stress are higher in health care workers than in other professions. What is not as well researched, Wengel said, is what should be done to improve the situation. There are three pillars on which to base wellness activities in health care, he said: improving the efficiency of the practice environment, enhancing individual resilience and providing a culture of wellness.
"This last strategy is really important and exposure to the humanities plays a significant part," Wengel said. "We know, for example, that medical students who are exposed to the humanities during medical school demonstrate higher scores on measures of empathy, wisdom, tolerance for ambiguity, and even spatial skills."
Organizers hope to begin rehearsals in late August with practices one evening a week (time and location to be announced). The orchestra will perform each fall and spring.
"We know this partnership between the medical community and the UNO School of Music will improve the mental health of faculty, staff and students, reduce burnout and enhance community outreach," Garcia said.
Students, faculty and staff at UNO are encouraged to participate in the Heartland Philharmonic Orchestra, which is comprised of members from UNO and the Omaha community. The orchestra presents a minimum of two concerts each semester covering a wide range of repertoire from the Baroque era to the present. Auditions are held each fall.
For more information on the Heartland Philharmonic Orchestra, contact Matthew Brooks, email@example.com, or contact the School of Music at 402.554.3411.
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