Dell Medical School program aims to bring music to hospital hallways

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new music program formed by Dell Medical School, UT Health Austin and Ascension Seton launched on Monday.

It’s called the Red River Ensemble — an orchestra which aims to fill hospital wards with music. The orchestra will train and perform at the Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

Violinist David Bernat and pianist Elias Dagher currently make up the ensemble, which was created by Mark Bernat, who recently joined Dell Medical School as the new director of music services. Anyone affiliated with UT is eligible to join the program, he said.

“The idea is that music speaks to so many people that in some ways it’s medicinal…so anyone who’s recovering, whether it’s a stroke or other surgery cardiac, seems to recover much faster when there is music,” he said.

Bernat hopes to have as many free concerts as possible for patients and families trying to be there for loved ones in hospital.

“There really isn’t much else to do here other than eat and watch TV, so it’s a great way for about an hour to keep them away from any serious issues that might be happening within their family or with themselves, and just get away from it all and have a moment of peace and quiet,” he said.

The inauguration of the Red River Ensemble began with a performance of works by Mozart, Schumann, Ravel and Bartok.