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Fulfilling a musical dream – and a promise

Opthalmic tech accomplishes her goal as a cellist.

Growing up in Dunkirk, NY, my parents regularly took me to see performances by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, an elite performing group. I studied classical piano from a young age and remember telling my parents that, some day, I would play alongside that group.

Fast forward several years, and I have performed cello twice with the Buffalo Philharmonic and plan to do so for a third time next year.

Ann Henderson, ophthalmic technician, is a cellist in the Delmar Community Orchestra.
COURTESY ANN HENDERSON

From bass to cello

My musical journey took me to College of St. Rose, in Albany, NY, where I studied string bass, studio engineering, and recording. After college, I began working in optometry, before continuing in the industry as an ophthalmic tech at a cornea specialty clinic and then at a general ophthalmology practice. My ophthalmic career took over as music went on the backburner, but I eventually had the itch to play again.

I learned how to play the cello after becoming more interested in classical music, first teaching myself then studying with an instructor. Soon after, I joined the Delmar Community Orchestra, one of the oldest community orchestras in the country. We play everything from popular to classical music, including original arrangements written by our conductors; I also make time to play in a trio.

I also serve as a board member of the Bach Cello Suites Workshop, which holds a yearly concert for adult amateur cellists. And I have performed two concerts with organ accompaniment at The Hudson Mohawk American Theater Society at Proctor’s Theater in Schenectady, NY.

Playing with the Philharmonic

I got my chance to play with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra when it partnered with World Doctors Orchestra, a non-profit group which gives medical professionals who have a music background the chance to participate in elite performance groups. In both cases, I was given several days to practice alongside the philharmonic members before performing alongside other medical professionals at Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo, NY. I was intimidated at first, but when I arrived I was greeted warmly by the performers (both doctors and philharmonic members) and welcomed as one of their own. I still keep in close contact with many of them.

Team performance

It might not seem like it at first, but there is actually a lot of overlap between my experience as a musician and as a tech. Performing has given me greater empathy for patients, as I know what it’s like to put myself in an uneasy situation and to learn something new. Also, being part of an orchestra has taught me the importance of working with others to ensure everything runs meticulously and harmoniously

A goal fulfilled

I couldn’t have accomplished this much without my parents’ support. Having them see me play with the philharmonic, and fulfilling my childhood promise, was one of the happiest and proudest moments I’ve had in my musical career. OP