Composed of healthcare professionals, students and community members, the Health Science Center Orchestra encourages those interested in renewing old skills on the violin, flute or other instrument they learned in high school to attend a rehearsal.

Trombonist and biology Ph.D. student Tim Ohlert said, “This is my second semester in the orchestra, and my favorite part is the community mentality that we are all professionals and experts in diverse fields, but we make time to come together and play music.”

The group is welcoming of new members as at least two new musicians attended this past Sunday’s rehearsal.

“I played in symphonic ensembles in high school and in college, and when I started medical school, I thought that I would have to give that up,” cellist Kory Tillery said.

For cellist Kelly Steinberg, who has played with the group for four of its five years, the orchestra was also a way to maintain doing what she loved.

“I wasn’t playing much on my own. I need the push in knowing that I am going to be accountable to other people,” Steinberg said.

Harpist and medical student Shana Drake-Lavelle agreed.

“The HSC Orchestra in particular is one that is centered around having fun and coming together for the love of music, and I love that,” she said.

Bill Bainbridge, clarinet soloist for the upcoming concert in March, said while there have “sometimes been disagreements (and) some people are happier with it than and large the folks in amateur groups like this get along pretty well. They enjoy what they are doing; no other reason to do it,” Bainbridge said.

There is also an element of artistic satisfaction in playing orchestra music, he said.

“You look at a really good painting, and it has an effect on you. You come out and things sort of look different after that. In all of the arts,” he said.

For many of the healthcare students, handling orchestra preparation and rehearsals on top of their studies is difficult; however the orchestra also provides a change from their busy schedules.

“I find that being able to create music is like a reset button for me. It helps me deal with the stress of school,” Tillery said.

“It instills the importance of maintaining a life balance and coming together with your peers to work on something beautiful,” Drake-Lavelle said.

The HSC Orchestra is part of the Arts-in-Medicine program under the School of Medicine, and it provides students and faculty with expressive opportunities through artistic pursuits such as dance and music.

“I think playing music is good for my mental health. It makes me happy which is important. I do a lot of writing, as I am trying to finish my dissertation, so I think playing music helps with the creativity needed to design experiments and write about the results in a compelling way,” said clarinetist and Ph.D. candidate in biology at UNM, Marie Westover.

The orchestra meets every Sunday in the Center for the Arts basement from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and can be contacted through their Facebook page. Their next concert is scheduled for March 29.

Aubrie Powell is a culture reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at or on Twitter @AubrieMPowell.