Cultivating Humanism II:
A symposium on Medicine
and the Arts

Harvard Medical School

Partner Organizations

The A.R.T./MXAT Institute for Advanced Theater Training
at Harvard University

The A.R.T. Institute was established in 1987 by the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) as a training ground for the professional American theater. It is a two-year, five-semester training program for young theater professionals, operated in association with the Moscow Art Theater School (MXAT). The wide range of courses given by the international faculty offers students unique preparation for the multi-faceted demands of the professional theater.
Each year, approximately twenty-three carefully selected students are admitted for a full-time, two-year, five-term program of study in acting, dramaturgy, or voice pedagogy. The Institute accepts inquisitive student artists, whose talent, enthusiasm, intelligence, and cultural curiosity can pioneer and lead the theater of the future.


by Margaret Edson




Vivian Bearing, Ph.D.

Professor of seventeenth-century poetry at the university                   Samantha Eggers


Harvey Kelekian, M.D.

Chief of medical oncology, University hospital                                   David Abrams


Jason Posner, M.D.

Clinical fellow, Medical Oncology Branch                                          Dara Yasdani


Susie Monahan, R.N., B.S.N.

Primary nurse, Cancer Inpatient Unit                                                 Adeola Role


Fellows, Stage directions                                                                     Ashleigh Reade


The River Charles Ensemble

River Charles Ensemble is a conductorless chamber orchestra with approximately 40 members, dedicated to performing orchestral repertoire with chamber music techniques. Founded in 2012, RCE was developed from the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra model and seeks to provide a safe and nurturing environment at Harvard where young student musicians can develop as artists and people, and learn from one another in a collaborative context. 

Thanks to the following undergraduate musicians:

Nancy Zhou '15, violin  Comparative Literature
Ellen Shrock '16, violin English
Nicholas Bobbs '16, viola Engineering
Lee Ann Song '15, cello Psychology - Social and Cognitive Neuroscience

Harvard Art Museums

The Harvard Art Museums comprise the Fogg, Busch-Reisinger, and Arthur M. Sackler museums. Together, the collections include approximately 250,000 objects in all media and represent Western art from the Middle Ages to the present, along with Asian, ancient, and Islamic and later Indian art. Catch highlights of these collections in the Sackler Museum at 485 Broadway before it closes on June 1, 2013. The new Harvard Art Museums at 32 Quincy Street will open in the fall of 2014.

Singing our Way Through:  Songs for the world's Bravest Kids

Boston, June 1, 2013 -
 The Singing Our Way Through project was created by Boston musician and father Alastair Moock. In July of 2012, one of Alastair’s twin five-year-old daughters was diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia). “It felt like we were drowning,” says Moock. “For the first week or so, my wife and I walked around the hospital in a trance. Then I went home and got my guitar.” 

Over the course of the next hospital-bound month, Alastair and his daughter, Clio, sang and wrote songs together in her room. “It was amazing how her mood brightened in those moments. The effect was tangible.”

After Clio returned home and cancer treatment became the new normal for the Moock family, Alastair continued to write songs about the experience. “Singing together in the hospital was transformative, not just for Clio, but for me. It reminded me how powerful music can be,” says Moock, “and I wanted to bring that experience to other kids and families going through the same thing.”

Alastair’s idea was to create an album that could be used as a free resource for patients and pediatric oncology programs around the country. Some of the songs he wrote over the next few months were specific to cancer, others were more universal, but all of them were about helping kids and families “own” their experience of illness.

“A friend of mine who survived breast cancer said to me early on, ‘This is a club no one wants to join, but it has the best members.’ She was right. I think people dealing with serious illness come to appreciate life in a new way,” says Alastair. “That’s the album I wanted to make: not a cancer album, a life album.”

In January of 2013, Alastair took the songs he had written, along with a few carefully chosen others, into the studio to record Singing Our Way Through: Songs for the World’s Bravest Kids. He was joined by friends and collaborators from the world of Americana music, including blues legend Chris Smither, folk singer Aoife O’Donovan (vocalist for the 2013 Grammy-winning Goat Rodeo Sessions, Best Folk Album), and family music artists Rani Arbo, The Okee Dokee Brothers (2013 Grammy-winners, Best Children’s Album) and Elizabeth Mitchell (2013 Grammy-nominee, Best Children’s Album).

To finance the album, Moock started a crowd-funding campaign, which was far more successful than he had expected. Says Moock, “I was overwhelmed by the support of friends and fans. My goal was to raise $10,000, which would have been the bare minimum required to record the album. We raised nearly triple that.”

The money from that campaign, along with sales of the album to the general public through online and traditional retail outlets, will allow Moock to put the album into the hands of children and families living with cancer. Moock also plans to tour behind the album with his band, making appearances at hospitals and summer camp programs for kids with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. A special pre-release concert is scheduled for August at the Wolf Trap Family Theatre in Washington, DC and a Boston release show is scheduled for September at The Center for the Arts at the Armory in Somerville, MA.

There is a seriousness of purpose to the songs on “Singing Our Way Through,” but also a great deal of joy. You can hear both in the opening of “I Am the Light,” the song-poem that begins the album:

                  C is for cancer, that’s growing in me

                  A is for able, that’s what I will be

                  Able to bend like a tree in the wind

                  My branches are strong even though they are thin

In songs like “When I Get Bald,” Moock demonstrates his ability to be both playful – even silly – and pointed at the same time. “There’s so much you can’t control about cancer,” says Moock, “but what interests me most as a writer – and a parent of a kid with cancer – are the parts you can control. Being bald is cool if we choose to make it cool.”

  “My hope is to bring some joy to kids with cancer,” says Moock, “and to bring some joy, and a little bit of education, to kids without cancer. But the ultimate goal is to get kids and parents singing together. If this album accomplishes that, it will be a success.” 

 Moock plans a busy family concert season this fall. Visit for updates.


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