LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Professional musicians from local symphonies and other groups have banded together to perform virtual concerts for patients at Cedars-Sinai.
Emma Vitalez was one of the patients who got her own personal Christmas concert over a Zoom call as she received her chemotherapy treatment.
“I like all kinds of music as long as it is music it makes me happy, feel alive,” Emma said.
Matthew Aucoin — a composer, conductor, writer, and pianist — entertained her with some holiday classics like “Have yourself a Merry little Christmas,” “Come ye faithful” and “First Noel.”
The concert-for-one is very different from the performances Aucoin is used to.
Before the pandemic, he worked with some of the biggest opera companies in the U.S., including the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Once coronavirus happened and the stages went dark, then came along the opportunity to help patients during this challenging time, and Aucoin stepped up to the plate.
“How this hospital program got started a bunch of musicians felt we can’t do what we usually do how can we bring into peoples lives in a one-on-one way,” he said.
The Vital Sounds initiative started funding these virtual hospital performances nationwide at the start of the pandemic.
Aucoin’s ensemble, the American Modern Opera Company signed up in late spring to hold weekly concerts for patients.
“It’s about bringing spiritual joy lift into my patients’ lives as they are going through infusion center and Covid patients,” said Bronwen Jones, the hospital’s cancer center chaplain.
Jones brought this program to Cedars-Sinai hospital in September after noticing how much music can help patients, including lowering their blood pressure, he said.
Musicians, too, have noticed the positive impacts the performances have.
“Some of the most memorable experience with patients — nonverbal, intubated not speaking — you can see in eyes what music can do for them,” Aucoin said.