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Orchestrating a little holiday magic Young Hopkins patients delight in visitors' gifts of music and dance


Holiday magic and cheer came to call yesterday at the Johns Hopkins Hospital Children's Center when Baltimore Symphony Orchestra members played Christmas carols in the pediatric wards and for a larger audience of youngsters in Turner Auditorium.

Children hooked up to IV's from beds or wheelchairs listened raptly to the strains of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker Suite," played by 50 orchestra musicians and conducted by BSO Associate Conductor Daniel Hege.

The children's faces lighted up even more when dancers from Baltimore School for the Arts appeared. Swirls of excitement erupted when Santa Claus walked into the auditorium during a singing of "Jingle Bells."

Meanwhile, the IV beepers of some patients went off, a reminder that the medical situations don't go away with a blink or a wish. One little girl, a Kennedy Krieger Institute patient bedridden with her legs in braces, managed to lift her head while she clapped.

Dr. George J. Dover, director of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said the BSO "Christmas gift" concert for children has become a tradition. "There's been over 10 years of partnership," he said of the two institutions.

"As the years have gone on, we opened it up to the community," Dover said, explaining why a large number of pupils from local elementary schools also filled the brightly decked hall.

Dover said there are usually between 50 and 75 children in the hospital on Christmas Day.

After the concert, which featured 12-year-old Vitaly Briskin playing the "Winter" piece from Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons," trios and quartets of musicians toured the oncology and other wards to serenade children.

"Fabulous!" grinned one East Baltimore boy, Marcus, admiring the tuba. "I wish I had one of those at home."

A girl named Heather from Dundalk, who said she had a "deadly disease and asthma on top of that," said listening to the professionally played music had made her day.

Said tuba player Kevin Ladd: "It gives us the opportunity to give something to the kids."

After a pause, he added, "We're the fortunate ones. We can go home. They can't."

Pub Date: 12/16/98

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