Where In The Virtual World

A man plays cello above empty seats at Wrigley Field. TEDxWrigleyville is spelled out in large cutout letters behind him.
During medical school, Levy founded a national health education campaign called Music Inspires Health, teaming up music industry celebrities with physicians, medical students, and public health experts.

If ever there were a time to help people reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and isolation, this is it. Who knew it would involve playing a cello at a baseball field, though?

And that’s exactly what School of Medicine alumnus Benjamin Levy 08M decided to give viewers during the TEDxWrigleyville livestream event, “Humanity, A View from Inside the Pandemic,” on Sunday, June 28, from Wrigley Field in Chicago.

Levy, division head of gastroenterology at Mount Sinai Hospital, Holy Cross Hospital, and Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital in Chicago as well as founder of a refugee clinic, brought music to the frontlines of COVID-19 as a featured TEDx speaker, an independently organized event licensed by TED.

Levy’s talk, “Motivating Health Education with Music,” featured cello performances from himself and internationally acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma, whom Levy has known since he was nine years old. He arranged for Ma’s performance as an extension of Ma’s #SongsofComfort series during the pandemic. 

Using examples, Levy discussed how the rock band Queen and Elton John innovated HIV prevention campaigns through live concerts and made HIV prevention “cool.” He talked about how music can empower audiences and break down barriers to ensure messages are shared broadly.

Levy also spoke about his own efforts to use music to promote health, such as the “Music Inspires Health” concert tour he organized during medical school at Emory, and weekly virtual concert series, “Cocktails and Concerts,” he founded and organized by introducing collaborations between musicians and doctors and nurses on the frontlines of the pandemic.

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