Jonathan also works as a music journalist, and writes a weekly column for The Grand Street News, among other publications.
Below is an article of his from last month detailing his impressions of the talented group "Musicians On Call" ~ a charitable organization which, coincidentally, was co-founded (with Michael Solomon) by none other than our own above-mentioned Vivek himself! :)
So! Let me know what YOU think.
MUSICIANS ON CALL
Single Room Concerts by Jonathan Leeder
A volunteer program brings musicians in contact with the men and women who need them
I was extremely fortunate this past week to be part of a performance at The Rivington House. You may be scratching your head and wondering where this venue is, and you’re right, it isn’t a real venue. The Rivington House is a long term, state-of-the-art facility for people with AIDS. It is financed mostly through state bonds and run by a dedicated staff with the help of passionate volunteers.
I witnessed a special performance organized by Musicians On Call. This nonprofit group brings live and recorded music to the bedsides of patients in healthcare facilities like Rivington. Their mission is to use music to promote and complement the healing process for patients, families, and caregivers.
The group was created in 1999, when founders Vivek Tiwary and Michael Solomon were volunteering at a concert sponsored by the Kristen Ann Carr Fund. After the show, a hospital staff member pointed out that many patients were unable to attend because they were too sick to leave their rooms. Tiwary, Solomon, and the musicians went from room to room to play for those unable to leave their beds. This personal interaction created a crucial intimacy as the spirits were lifted for not only the patients but also their friends and families.
I arrived at The Rivington House not really sure what to expect. A volunteer guide greeted me and told me that we would start on the fifth floor and visit patients one by one, working our way back to the lobby. The musical volunteers for this event were classical guitar duo Gregory Askins and Joseph Parisi, who go by the name Nylon Wound. They performed original instrumental jazz and blues compositions, and each patient got a different song.
The music was great, but the impact it sparked was beyond words. I can’t even imagine what it would feel like to be ill like some of these people, so I want to be careful how I describe this special event. One man could hardly sit up to watch the performance, but once they got into a groove he closed his eyes and you could see the pain and frustration being lifted off his shoulders and face. Even if it was only a temporary fix, he was noticeably in better spirits after hearing a couple of songs.
One woman seemed like she was in another world and hardly took notice of us when we set up next to her bed. Immediately after the notes began to fill the room, I could see her toes tapping and keeping the beat. Gregory and Joseph also saw this and it lit up their faces and heightened the musical moment. I stole a glance at the volunteer who was playing chaperone and she was also taking in all of this. She smiled at me and I realized why it was so important for her to come out of her way every week to be here. Everybody was benefiting from this experience. Just like laughter, music is the best medicine.
After such an uplifting experience I was anxious to learn how I could help again in the future. The Rivington House in particular is in dire need of more MOC volunteers. I learned that one could volunteer at both the headquarters or in each site location. Besides money donations, you can donate CD’s or even old musical instruments. You can volunteer your time or professional services (photography, catering, graphic design).There’s no end to the ways you can get involved.
For more information on Musicians On Call or The Rivington House,
please visit the websites Musicians On Call.org and Volunteer NYC.org
Here's another Musicians On Call writeup, this time on the Sloan-Kettering website:
Remember? Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
is where Neil Aspinall died two weeks ago.
......Augghhh, has it really been a whole two weeks already? :'(
Among those who have visited patients are E Street Band member Nils Lofgren, cancer survivor Levon Helm, Steely Dan's Donald Fagen (Hellooo ladyeffingbroke!!!), jazz star Dave Koz and comedian Don Rickles.