OSO brings gift of music to hospital

By Austin Ramsey Messenger-Inquirer


Music has been entertaining and uplifting patients and visitors at Owensboro Health Regional Hospital this holiday season, thanks to a partnership between the health system and Owensboro Symphony Orchestra.

This is the second year Owensboro Health has helped fund the orchestra’s Music on Call program. It’s brought the gift of music to businesses, nonprofit agencies, community centers and more in the greater Owensboro region, organizers say.

But the hospital would have been remiss to avoid offering music there, too, said Director of Community Engagement Debbie Zuerner Johnson. After all, she said, the region’s center of health and wellness was designed with art and music in mind.

Before OHRH opened in 2013, health leaders enlisted the help of an arts and design committee to guide construction in such a way that the new hospital could become a haven for regional art and music. Today, the 350-bed hospital and 781,000-square-foot health campus features the committee’s subtle influences almost everywhere. Wooden outdoor paneling, natural lighting and centrally located green spaces were just a start, Johnson said. Music and entertainment, she added, was intended from the start.

“It’s a campus of health and wellness — not just where you go to be sick,” Johnson said. “We wanted this place to be soothing and healing, and, in a way, it was brilliant. We built a place designed for art and music.”

Tuesday afternoon, Sarah Beth Caudill sat at a grand piano situated near the center of the hospital’s spacious lobby. With her eyes shut tight, her hands moved back and forth across the keys, executing a complicated rendition of a holiday favorite.

“I’ve always loved Christmas music,” the OSO piano teacher said. “It has a nostalgic feeling. It takes people back to childhoods and warm feelings. It’s great music for a beautiful time of the year.”

Music, Caudill said, is a powerful art. It has the ability to enrich and heal people, no matter their circumstances. That’s why bringing music into the hospital was so important to her.

“I think our world needs music that brings the best out of us,” she said. “That’s my goal as an artist.”

OSO Marketing Director Sara Jackson said bringing music into the community is a favorite among the orchestra’s elite musicians, staff and friends. It’s a chance to take their art to the people, and it’s something that is made so much easier with Owensboro Health’s help. The health system awarded OSO a $21,000 grant this year for Music on Call through its annual Community Benefit Grant, a long-standing tradition of partnership and investment in the region’s health and well-being.

Jackson said music brings with it joy, and there are few places where joy is more needed than in a hospital.

“Music can always touch your heart,” she said. “It has a way of reaching your emotions like nothing else. Sometimes people here are experiencing the worst moments of their lives, and music has a way of giving them hope.”

Music on Call will feature musicians like Caudill or Diane Earle, professor of music at Kentucky Wesleyan College, who has played piano on international and national stages, until the end of the month, save for a short break during this weekend’s holiday. The program includes an expanded list of musicians, performance times and dates. A complete schedule is available at owensborohealth.org/musiconcall.

More information about the OSO’s year-round program can be found online at theoso.com.

Austin Ramsey, 270-691-7302, aramsey@messenger-inquirer.com, Twitter: @austinrramsey