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Revitalizing Bing with the Healing Power of ‘Medicine & the Muse’

The annual “Medicine & the Muse” Student Symposium showcased the remarkable musical talents of the Stanford Medicine Orchestra and School of Medicine affiliates, adding another dimension to their already impressive medical pursuits.

The evening commenced with a series of captivating individual and ensemble performances, gradually building up the audience’s anticipation for the night ahead. The theme of the performance, “Pulling at Heartstrings,” was beautifully embodied through a variety of musical pieces.

A quartet comprising graduate and undergraduate students delivered a poignant rendition of Mendelssohn’s “String Quartet No. 2 in A Minor,” skillfully portraying a range of emotions through their performance. In a delightful contrast, assistant professor of medicine Jonathan H. Chen entertained the audience with a lighthearted magic show, acknowledging the Stanford Medicine community as the true magic of the evening.

The smaller-scale performances culminated in an awe-inspiring cello performance by Melanie Ambler M.D. ’25, which stood out as a highlight of the symposium. Ambler’s solo, accompanied by pianist Aaron Wilk Ph.D. ’22 M.D. ’24, evoked a sense of introspection and emotional depth, leaving a lasting impact on the audience.

Ambler’s performance was not merely a display of musical prowess but also a narrative of a meaningful encounter with a patient during her rotations. Through her improvisation, she artfully transformed the mundane sound of an IV alarm into a moving and magical musical piece, eliciting a profound emotional response from both the patient and the audience.

Following the intermission, the Medicine Orchestra, under the direction of music director Terrance Yan, took the stage to explore the spectrum of human emotions through music. The performance, highlighted by Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and Leroy Anderson’s “Irish Suite,” showcased the orchestra’s versatility and ability to evoke a wide range of feelings through their music.

While the Orchestra’s repertoire leaned towards triumphant pieces, the addition of more contemplative compositions could have enhanced the emotional depth of the performance, akin to Ambler’s evocative improvisation. By incorporating pieces that delve into the complexities of human emotions, the Orchestra could further amplify the sentimentality and poignancy of their musical expression.

In conclusion, the Medicine Orchestra and School of Medicine affiliates demonstrated not only their medical expertise but also their profound ability to convey life-affirming emotions through music, creating an unforgettable experience for all in attendance.