From This Side
The Choir and Orchestra of the Faculty of Medicine
The News team spoke with Bárbara Saraiva and Madalena Correia, who are currently responsible for the Artistic Direction of the Choir and Orchestra, respectively. They have kindly written a team presentation text, in addition to answering two short questions.
The Lisbon Medical Choir and the Lisbon Medical Orchestra opened the most important ceremony held by the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lisbon every year - Faculty Day. When we listen to them, we rest assured that the human being is made of numerous rare qualities that, as a whole, turn it into something even more special.
The Lisbon Medical Choir and Orchestra are two projects that were launched in 2015, as a result of the medical students' will to be able to continue their musical activity while studying. Currently, the two groups, as a whole, have 70 members, from students and alumni to physicians, from the two Faculties of Medicine based in the city of Lisbon, where music is the unifying language among the entire medical community.
The idea behind the formation of the two groups was to create a space where both students and physicians could pursue their passion and dedication to music even while studying medicine, somewhat demystifying the idea that, by enrolling in this course, we have to dedicate ourselves almost exclusively to our studies. Deep down, we have always believed, and we continue to believe with a growing conviction, that projects like these contribute to training more plural, more humane and more motivated physicians and that it is crucial for us to dedicate ourselves to arts other than medicine, so we can be happier and healthier.
Throughout the years, the groups have had the opportunity to perform in a number of Lisbon's entertainment venues, such as the Aula Magna of the University of Lisbon, Culturgest, Teatro Thália, São Jorge Cinema, Camões Theatre, Tivoli Theatre, Campo Pequeno, São Carlos, among others.
From classical music to soundtracks, Portuguese music, jazz and gospel, the two groups stand out for the versatility of their musical repertoire.
Can you tell us about the people who are part of this group of former students of the Faculty of Medicine? What they do, professionally speaking, and the specific role they play in the Choir or the Orchestra.
Bárbara and Madalena: The members of the Lisbon Medical Choir and Orchestra are students and alumni of the two Faculties of Medicine of Lisbon. There are students from the various years of the Integrated Master's Degree in Medicine, Common Year Interns and Speciality Interns. We have a growing number of physicians in both groups, especially alumni who were already members of the choir or the orchestra and wanted to stay with us, even after completing their studies. Actually, that has always been one of the main goals of these groups: to allow people to pursue musical activities, both in university and later in their professional life, to keep their love for music and art alive.
And where do these musical skills come from and how are they developed?
Bárbara and Madalena: In the case of the choir, it is not necessary to have musical education, and many of its members don't know how to read music scores; they sing by ear. The orchestra is slightly different; the members need to know how to read music scores and have some level of training in the instruments they play. However, we are proud to have very heterogeneous groups in terms of training, from people who completed their studies in the conservatory, to instrumentalists who played their instruments for only 2 or 3 years. The idea is to allow everyone to participate and the choice of repertoire also takes that into account.
The atmosphere at the rehearsals is always very relaxed, people are not strictly judged if they make mistakes or play the wrong notes; what really matters is that people enjoy the time they spend playing or singing, even if the result is not always musically perfect.
Both projects started with about 10-15 people and today they have about 30 members each. Initially, we performed mainly in medical congresses and activities related to the FMUL and Santa Maria Hospital, with short, 15- to 20-minute shows. Nowadays, we perform at several entertainment venues, in concerts where the choir and the orchestra are the sole performers or in shows where they play as headliners.
What are your goals for the future?
Bárbara and Madalena: The last 4 years have been extremely positive and the Choir and Orchestra are now two solid and consistent groups with a recognised musical quality and a great spirit. Our main aspiration for the future of these groups is that they can grow in number of members and that more and more people identify with the project and its ideas. Our main goal for the years to come is to expand the name of the Lisbon Medical Choir and Orchestra beyond Lisbon and the Medical Community, so that we can perform more often in different contexts, different cities and for different audiences.