Jul 12, 2022

By Christine Ross

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Toronto is home to world class music and health care.

Now the two sectors are pairing up for “Symphonies for the Soul” to bring Toronto Symphony Orchestra musicians inside Princess Margaret Cancer Centre to perform for patients and their loved ones.

“It’s brought a tremendous sense of purpose to my life as a musician because it made me remember how important music is in the community,” says TSO violinist Amanda Goodburn.

She and the other musicians are used to performing in grand concert halls, but playing in this  revitalized space at Princess Margaret has been special for both musicians and patients.

“The one thing that really stuck with me was an individual came up to me and said, wow that really lowered my heart rate and that was really quite profound because it brought home for me the fact that music affects on in a physiological level,” added Amanda.

“So we started a program called The Cancer Experience, which is to try and pay attention in all kinds of way to enhancing, supporting the experience of patients and families and one way is through music,” said Dr. Gary Rodin, Director of the University Health Network Cancer Experience Program.

He says the program has struck a chord with two groups hit hard by the pandemic — arts and healthcare.

“These are two groups that have been in some way shut down and stressed, we know there have been very high rates of burn out in healthcare providers and disconnected from each other you know having to wear masks and not having all kinds of collegial interactions and so these are two groups that have both been very hungry for this kind of interaction and it’s a unique pairing.”

The music program is part of a larger initiative to focus on the patient and not just the disease. There’s jazz on the roof top patio, and there’s a partnership with the Art Gallery of Ontario to bring art to the hospital.

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