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Vol. LVII, No. 18
September 9, 2005

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Summer Concert Series Hits High Note at CRC Oasis

This summer, the Clinical Research Center added another feature to its repertoire of art programs — one that benefits employees as well as patients. The Summer Concert Series at the Oasis was launched on June 30 with a performance by a jazz-gospel a cappella group, which was followed by a wide variety of musical acts each Thursday from noon to 1 p.m. in the first-floor atrium.

Ann Brewer, who works in the NIH director’s office, plays classical piano selections in the CRC Oasis.  
Employees, patients and visitors listened from their seats or simply stopped for a few minutes before continuing on their path as performance groups and individuals sang, danced and played instruments. Others leaned over the railings on upper floors, surprised to hear the melody in a usually quiet building.

When the Clinical Center art committee first envisioned a seasonal concert series many years ago, it was limited by the lack of open space in Bldg. 10. "In the old building, there were pockets of public space," explains Larry Eldridge, senior advisor to the CC chief operating officer and an art committee member. "With the atrium in the new [CRC], we saw a great opportunity to add even more life to the building — and to use the atrium for programs beyond the normal business hours."

The idea soon became a reality with help from the Division of Employee Services, ORS and Eurest dining services, which partnered with the art program to bring the long-awaited concert series to NIH. The series soon became a great collaborative effort, with representation from several CC departments and offices including facility management, rehabilitation medicine and networks and applications. The goal was not only to "create a relaxing, comfortable atmosphere for the patients and caregivers," explains Crystal Parmele of the CC Office of Facilities Management, but also to give local artists and NIH employees the opportunity to share their talents with the NIH community. Of the six groups that performed for the summer series, four included employees.

The series included performances from the ViBE, violinist Charles Tolbert, Premier, the NIH Orchestra Ensemble, pianist Ann Brewer and a group of young Irish musicians from the Sligo Hedge School led by Karen Ashbrook. Each group and individual was warmly welcomed. "The whole program has been very well received," says OFM employee Lillian Fitzgerald. "I received comments from several employees who told me that they had their office doors open and the music brightened their day," Eldridge adds.

For the performers, the response was equally encouraging. Terence Hope, who sings with the ViBE when he is not working at NIH as a conference coordinator, says the experience was, "Excellent! I think it really took people by surprise to hear music in the building. For me it has been a great thing to volunteer and help out, and to see how uplifting the music was for the children who came and spoke with us."

Ann Brewer, who works in the NIH director's office, played classical piano selections on July 28. "The biggest reward [of performing]," says Brewer, "was when I was walking down the hill after my performance and someone was knocking on a window from the CC. Once they got my attention, I looked up and saw that it was a patient and family cheering me. That made it worth the world to me."

The concert series is expected to resume in September. If you or someone you know is interested in performing, contact Parmele at (301) 496-2862.

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