Steere to explore links between music, medicine in Chautauqua Speaks lecture

Lori Humphreys | Staff Writer

Ancient Greek mythology did not separate medicine and music. Apollo was the god of both. Dr. Allen C. Steere will present both scientific and intuitive evidence that suggests the Greeks may have been onto something at 9:15 a.m. Thursday at the Chautauqua Women’s Club. Visitors will have the opportunity to meet and hear Steere discuss the links between medicine and music at the first “Chautauqua Speaks” program of the season.

Steere is a professor of medicine at Harvard University, an internationally recognized Lyme disease researcher and a concert pianist

His presentation, “Medicine and Music: A Personal Memoir,” seeks to answer this question: Is music linked to medicine more so than to other professions? Steere’s response integrates research and experience, science and intuition.

Steere offered three facts to bolster his claim that there is a link between medicine and the healing art of music, particularly the art of the instrumentalist.

There are a number of American cities with all-doctor orchestras including Boston’s Longwood Symphony and the World Doctors Orchestra in Berlin.

Between 70 to 80 percent of doctors have had training playing musical instruments.

The changes in the brain resulting from playing an instrument suggest a possible relationship between music and the skills that enhance medical doctors’

Steere recently played piano in a special concert sponsored by the Rheumatology Education Fund of the American College of Rheumatology.

Steere’s program includes a musical answer to his question. He will play Franz Schubert’s “Song Without Words” and will accompany Jarrett Ott, Curtis School of Music and Marlena Malas’ student. Ott will sing “The Impossible Dream” by Mitch Leigh and “Zueignung” by Richard Strauss. There will also be a Q-and-A session.

Steere is also the director of Clinical Research in Rheumatology at Harvard. Among multiple honors, he received the Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal Award from the Sabin Vaccine Institute for Lyme disease vaccine development in 1999 and, 20 years later, the Clinical Investigator Award from the American College of Rheumatology. He graduated from Columbia University with a bachelor’s degree in music in 1965, and in 1969, he graduated with a degree in Medicine from the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. He has come to Chautauqua for 42 years.

For more information, Steere suggests The Power of Music: Pioneering Discoveries in the New Science of Song by Ellen Mannes.