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Dana brings music virtually to Mercy hospital patients

Youngstown State University’s Dana School of Music is partnering with the Mercy Health Foundation to bring music to patients at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital.

The project is called “Just What the Doctor Ordered” and includes broadcasting four prerecorded video performances by Dana students to patient rooms at St. Elizabeth Youngstown.

“Sharing our music with the patients and staff at Mercy Health is one small way we can give back to the community of health professionals who have done so much for the Valley this year,” said Randall Goldberg, Dana director. “I look forward to the growth of this partnership and to a time when our students and faculty may perform at Mercy Health St. Elizabeth and deliver our thanks in person.”

Originally the brainchild of Dana faculty member Caroline Oltmanns, the concerts were intended to be a series of six live performances at St. Elizabeth Youngstown beginning last fall.

“The idea began as we searched for an additional performance venue for students and emerged into an opportunity for students to think outside of their own worlds, and to experience what other people have to go through in their lives, such as during an illness,” Oltmanns said. “The intention was for it to be an experience in performing, in sympathy and in altruism.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, the idea was put on hold. At the same time, Dana was producing videos incorporating student and faculty content. With those videos available, the conversation continued, and the new project was presented.

Three of the four programs are part of the McDonough Museum Honors Recital Series, while the fourth features a Dana School of Music brass ensemble. They previously premiered on the Cliffe College YouTube channel. The performers include the Dana Brass Quintet, pianist Michael Barren, flutist Kayla Gilmore and the Andrew Karkosiak Jazz Trio.

“The healing power of music has been very well received by patients, families and staff,” said Paul Homick, president of Mercy Health Foundation. “Music is very powerful in addressing the wellbeing of the whole person. It calms the mind and lifts the spirit, so the body can heal. That is especially important right now, when many of our patients can’t be with their families. We know this will be a tremendous benefit to them, and we are so very grateful to YSU, the Dana School of Music and the students and faculty who made this possible.”

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