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Lexington arts group combines vocal chamber music with medical check-ups

Cheri Lawson
Dr. Gary Anderson and the Lexington Chamber Chorale perform at Second Presbyterian Church

The Lexington Chamber Chorale’s 2022-2023 Season is focusing on Improving Health Through Music

Arts reporter Cheri Lawson attended the Chorale’s February concert and filed this report

It’s an unusually warm Sunday evening in February at the Second Presbyterian Church in Lexington. That’s where the Lexington Chamber Chorale is performing to an audience of more than 200 people. Dr. Gary Anderson is the Chorale's conductor. He said the Chorale concentrates on acapella music and their concerts are almost always theme-based.

“Which is why we’re doing ‘Restorative and Therapeutic Power of Music’ as a theme for this particular concert. So, we have a theme and then I choose music to fit the theme,” said Anderson.

The 80- year- old Anderson said, after COVID, it just made sense for the Chorale’s themes to combine mental and physical health with music. He said that’s why the 2022-2023 season is called ‘Improving Our Health Through Music”. In this evening’s concert called ‘The Restorative and Therapeutic Power of Music’, there are four categories including, music and the heart, music and memories, music connects us, and music is the laughter of the soul.

” We really believe this issue of music is therapeutic and helpful. We believe it, and now we’re trying to do music that emphasizes that, talks about that, sings about that,” explained Anderson.

As the concert comes to an end some audience members are filing down to the undercroft of the church where Baptist Health professionals like Stephanie Turner are welcoming people and providing medical information about issues like cancer and heart disease.

Turner is the practice manager of Baptist Health Lexington’s Heart and Valve Center. She tells concert-goers how they can be heart- healthy.

“How to also do heart health assessments to see if someone is at moderate or high risk for heart disease, how to take blood pressures at home, if they have a machine to do that at home, and how to do that properly. As well, we’re teaching hands-only CPR," said Turner.

Cheri Lawson
Baptist Health's Stephanie Turner is explaining to audience member Kim Repass how to do CPR.

Turner said she wasn’t surprised to be invited to perform health assessments at a concert where the focus is the Restorative and Therapeutic Power of Music.

“Because I do believe in music as a healing force with patients,“ explained Turner.

Lexington resident Andrew Moore is a former member of the Chorale and his wife currently performs. Moore thinks the concert and the health information after are a good combination.

“I think that the music ties in with the theme and helps raise awareness, that music can be a very important part of our overall health and how we interact with each other in a musical setting is definitely beneficial,” said Moore.

Enjoying a few snacks at the reception after the concert, Kristine Neese said she’s lived in Lexington for 21 years. Neese said she keeps coming back to see the Chorale because it feels spiritual and the music helps her feel calm and less stressed.

“I liked the sing-a-long part a lot because I think people really like to sing and you don’t get a chance to very often. And the first song, This Land is Your Land, I love that song, it makes you happy to be somebody who knows that this is our land,” explained Neese.

Cheri Lawson
The Lexington Chamber Chorale performing under the direction of Dr. Gary Anderson

Psychiatrist, Dr. Mark Wright has been singing with the Chorale for 30 years. He says when people sing they tend to feel better.

“ It’s shown that our body releases endorphins, it increases the level of serotonin in our system and when you feel serotonin it’s like eating chocolate, you get the same experience of joy and love,” said Wright.

Conductor Dr. Gary Anderson said he’s sure that being involved with music has been good for his health.

“I am absolutely convinced that I’m healthier in body and mind because I’m making music. I’m convinced of that,” reported Anderson.

Anderson said the next Lexington Chamber Chorale Concert is scheduled for April 16th and its theme is, Music and Dance: A Healthy Pairing.

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Cheri is a broadcast producer, anchor, reporter, announcer and talk show host with over 25 years of experience. For three years, she was the local host of Morning Edition on WMUB-FM at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Cheri produced and hosted local talk shows and news stories for the station for nine years. Prior to that, she produced and co-hosted a local talk show on WVXU, Cincinnati for nearly 15 years. Cheri has won numerous awards from the Public Radio News Directors Association, the Ohio and Kentucky Associated Press, and both the Cincinnati and Ohio chapters of the Society for Professional Journalists.