Doctoral music student launches “Sound Health”

Mary Perkinson

Doctoral music student Mary Perkinson. Photo: Katrin Talbot

Mary Perkinson, nearing the completion of her D.M.A. degree in violin performance at the School of Music, has combined empathy and entrepreneurship to forge a partnership benefiting hospital patients and music students.

It began in the summer of 2009 with a visit to the Cleveland Clinic where a family member had recently undergone surgery.

While walking down the hallway, Perkinson came upon a harpist performing for patients, family members and medical personnel. The serenity of the setting and obvious impact on listeners inspired her to try to create something similar in Madison.

Perkinson met with UW Hospital staff and subsequently applied for a New Arts Venture Challenge from UW-Madison’s Arts Enterprise Initiative.

She was awarded $500 in November 2009 to organize a pilot program of “Sound Health.”

Perkinson solicited fellow students at the School of Music to sign up for the following spring. Students were asked to forego an honorarium for their first performance but were paid for the second.

Between February and May 2010, the program sponsored 18 solo and ensemble performances by 30 musicians. Feedback through comments and surveys from both musicians and listeners was uniformly positive.

Kendalwood String Quartet

The Kendalwood String Quartet is performing at UW Hospital this fall as part of the "South Health" program. Left to right: Wesley Luke, violin (master’s student). Peiyun Lee, violin (doctoral student). Emily Gruselle, cello (BM'09, master’s student) and Marie Pauls, viola (BM'02, MM'06).

In July this year, Perkinson got even better news: She won a $5,000 grant from the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment along with a matching grant from UW Hospital.

The grants will sustain Sound Health for three years by supporting 90 performances (of which half will be volunteer) and paying a part-time student coordinator to take over after Perkinson graduates.

The fall series began on September 9, 2010 with a performance by the Kendalwood String Quartet.

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