Promoting Health and Art, the Durham Medical Orchestra Has Stories to Tell

Health staff, community members join in concert combining music and literature

An excerpt of the Durham Medical Orchestra's performance of Aaron Copland's "Billy the Kid."

Literature and mythology have always been an inspiration to composers everywhere, so for its Dec. 10 winter concert, the Durham Medical Orchestra decided to have its hand at doing both.

The orchestra, composed of health professionals, students and community members and conducted by Duke professor Verena Mösenbichler-Bryant, performed a selection of memorable songs all connected by being originated in popular stories and tales. From the "Ride of the Valkyries," composer Richard Wagner's retelling of Norse mythology, to an orchestral presentation of famed children's story "Goodnight Moon," the music presented stories of gods, ghosts, villians and a music-loving snake.

The orchestra commissioned local composer Dayton Louise Kinney for a piece called "The Orchestra Pit," based on the children's story by Johanna Write, who was on hand to provide the narration for the piece.

The songs were introduced by Duke medical student Meredith Achey, who also sang the words to "Goodnight Moon" during the performance.

Sponsored in part by Duke's Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts, the Durham Medical Orchestra's mission is to promote wellness, cultural enrichment and collaborations with local organizations such as Kidznotes.

Videos by Will Weldon.

Verena Mosenblichler-Bryant conducts the Durham Medical Orchestra. Photo by Bill Snead/Duke Photography

Meredith Achey sings the words during a performance of

Meredith Achey sings the words during a performance of "Goodnight Moon." Photo by Bill Snead