October 10, 2016

Music Fills the Air at UAMS Cancer Institute Thanks to Generous Donors

OCT. 10, 2016 | Seated in the atrium at the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Sid Davis heard for the first time what patients and visitors have enjoyed for six years: the uplifting sounds of the institute’s Steinway piano.

Davis and his late wife, Rita, made the decision to donate the Steinway in 2010 while the Cancer Institute’s expansion tower was under construction. “Rita and I had both been diagnosed with cancer, and we had a deep gratitude for the care we received,” Davis said. They wanted to make a donation in support of the new tower, and one option immediately caught their eye.

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“We both loved music, so when we found out it was possible to donate a Steinway, that was what we chose to do. We thought it would be something both patients and staff could enjoy,” he said.

The piano is located in the institute’s 12-story atrium, which was specially designed for musical performances. Patients and staff throughout the tower can hear the music, particularly those in the clinic waiting rooms and the nearby café.

“When we designed this building, we wanted to create a space that was warm and inviting. Hearing the music as soon as you walk in the door is not only comforting to our patients, many of whom are dealing with challenging medical conditions, but also helps create a positive atmosphere for our staff. We couldn’t be more thankful for Sid and Rita’s wonderful donation. It has truly made an impact on everyone at the Cancer Institute,” said Cancer Institute Director Peter Emanuel, M.D.

Davis, who lives in Fayetteville, had never made the trip to hear the Steinway until a recent visit to Little Rock with his wife, Kay, and their family. They were treated to a performance by three pianists who perform on a weekly basis. “I don’t know what I expected, but it was certainly exceeded,” Davis said.

Musicians are scheduled to perform on a regular basis by the Cancer Institute Department of Volunteer Services or welcome to play spontaneously. Johnny Jackson is one of the volunteer pianists who performs weekly and has a special affinity for the Steinway.

“It’s no ordinary piano; just ask anyone who has played it. It lifts us beyond our skill level, like it knows it’s our job to soothe others with our music,” Jackson said.

In addition to pianists, the Cancer Institute also frequently welcomes other musicians, including flutists, violinists, guitarists and vocalists. For information about becoming a volunteer musician, contact the Department of Volunteer Services at (501) 686-8286.