Now through July 3, the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment has teamed up with musicians union AFM Local 802 to produce a daily performance series in support of the 11 public hospitals comprising NYC Health+Hospitals (H+H).
“Music for the Soul of Health+Hospital Heroes,” as the initiative is named, is designed to inspire the local medical community and connect isolated patients to the outside world, at the same time it is providing paid work for musicians struggling financially during the pandemic.
“This program celebrates the best of New York City,” said Anne del Castillo, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, who is herself the daughter of a nurse. “Our local musicians are sharing their talents to heal our dedicated healers on the front lines.”
The new series, funded by the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, will host an hour-long livestream of performances each day at noon on the H+H Facebook page.
The initiative kicked off last Wednesday with an appearance from special guest Tony Bennet, who grew up in Astoria. The legendary singer paid tribute to hospital staff with a recorded message and a rendition of “Fly Me to the Moon.”
“I am in my ninth decade as a native New Yorker,” he said, “and I am humbled to be able to perform for all of New York City’s health and hospital workers who risk their lives and sacrifice so much to save the lives of all their patients battling the COVID-19 virus.
“Their extraordinary and dedicated response to this unprecedented situation exemplifies the highest level of human behavior,” Bennett continued. “They are the heart and soul of our city’s efforts to ensure our well-being.”
Over the next several weeks, “Music for the Soul” will feature a lineup that includes local talent, alongside appearances from popular musicians like DJ Questlove, who has been entertaining audiences in quarantine with sets since March.
Performers will play some of their personal favorites, in addition to taking requests and incorporating songs that local hospitals have used to celebrate patients being discharged or coming off ventilators, such as “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles.
“We know the science behind the healing powers of art and music, which we’re all in need of during this pandemic,” explained H+H chief quality officer and emergency medicine physician Eric Wei
The citywide health system has long emphasized the role of art in the well-being of both its patients and employees alike. Through the Arts and Medicine program, H+H incorporates a variety of disciplines from literary to visual arts into its infrastructure for healthcare.
“The program will not only bring beautiful sounds to our hospitals,” Dr. Wei added, “but also connect all of the different communities we serve and bring people together through technology.”