The Longwood Chorus, an ensemble of students and professionals in health care and science in the Longwood Medical Area, was founded in 2017 as an outlet to reduce burnout and promote creativity and emotional wellness.
Carolyn Hsu, MS, CCC-SLP, a soprano soloist and senior speech-language pathologist (SLP) in Rehabilitation Services, speaks with Heart & Science about the chorus, her role at the Brigham and the healing effects of music.
How long have you been singing?
CH: Singing and music have been major parts of my life since childhood. I have performed with school, university and church choirs, as well as musical theater.
Did your singing background influence your career path?
CH: Music had no impact on my decision to apply for graduate school for speech pathology, as I initially did not make the connection between SLP and voice. However, during my graduate school studies, I quickly became drawn to the voice and larynx. I would say, if anything, that my training as an SLP has positively influenced my singing skills!
Why did you join the Longwood Chorus?
CH: The chorus has a similar mission to the IHP Musicians, a vocal/instrumental group that I founded in graduate school. Both groups not only promote the well-being of health care providers and students, but also aim to improve the well-being of patients with acute or chronic illness through the benefits of music.
How does participating in the chorus benefit your own wellness?
CH: I look forward to rehearsals every week, as making music with others is always a welcome break. I especially love the outreach we do via hospital-based performances because it is so meaningful to me to connect through song with people who are experiencing illness and those who are caring for the ill.
What is the best part of the chorus?
CH: The community, hands down. I have met so many friendly, interesting, caring people who are passionate about what they do for their day jobs and equally passionate about making music. There’s something special about having two shared interests of music and medicine/health care.
When is the next performance?
CH: We typically put on a major concert twice a year; the next one is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 7. We also schedule small performances at Longwood Medical Area hospitals, so you may hear us down the hall sometime soon!
How can others get involved?
CH: We are always looking for new members, and right now we are especially seeking more low voices, such as tenors and basses. We hold auditions annually in the fall, and we encourage all who are interested to audition, regardless of skill level.