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Alabama Symphony Orchestra Performs Virtual Concerts For COVID-19 Patients

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There have been 68 mini performances since June.

Alabama Symphony Orchestra members have been performing for the sickest patients at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital since June, UAB reports.

There have been as many as 68 mini concerts performed for patients with respiratory failure due to COVID-19.

The concerts began after Anand Iyer, M.D., MSPH, a pulmonologist, intensivist and assistant professor in the UAB Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, and Maria Wilson, educational initiatives manager for the ASO, reconnected after being classmates at The Donoho School in Anniston, Alabama.

"We know from research that music can positively impact the well-being of critically ill patients in the ICU, improving their anxiety, delirium and sedation medication needs," Iyer said. "Beyond the potential palliative benefits for patients, the project has also had immense benefit for symphony musicians, who have an opportunity to perform again and touch lives in the ICU affected by COVID-19."

The performers play their concerts remotely through live video. The patients can see and hear the performers, but the performers can not see and hear the patients, due to HIPAA regulations.

"Music is a small respite for them," said ASO principal flutist Lisa Wienhold. "The therapist has communicated with me about the patients' reactions. One patient had been upset and angry all day. He said, when I played, the patient relaxed, listened and smiled. That is what music is all about - communicating with others through music and bringing some sense of comfort in these very difficult times."

Playing for the patients "honestly gives me back more than I give," Wienhold said. "I miss performing so much and have been so grateful for this opportunity to play for people. I hope this program is one that can continue beyond this COVID-19 pandemic."

Read more on UAB.



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