Violinist Sunmi Chang is that rare combination of highly accomplished performer with sterling academic credentials who can choose between careers in performance and academia. After recently completing a Doctor of Musical Arts in Violin Performance from the University of Michigan, Chang is currently using her talents to lift the spirits of first responders with the Summit Chamber Music Series Michigan Hospital Project.
The classical music concerts feature such acclaimed artists as cellist Paul Watkins, pianist Christopher Harding, and soprano Lenora Green-Turner. Livestreamed weekdays at 10 am on Facebook and online, the series continues through August 14.
“At this time of great difficulty everyone is suffering in one way or another,” says Chang. “Music has the power to heal and I strongly believe that this message we send through this music will touch people, reach their hearts, comfort and uplift them, and this keeps me believing in this project.”
It has been an enormous logistical challenge to organize the concerts and coordinate with the hospitals to ensure that they are reaching healthcare workers. Hectic schedules and lack of sound capability on hospital monitors sometimes make it impossible for workers to stream the concerts live, but they are often able to watch at other times. “The Hellen De Vos hospital is playing the videos on their channels at 1 p.m. every day,” Change says. “Other doctors are streaming through social media on their personal time.”
The project is gaining momentum with more listeners tuning in each day. “I don’t have a budget for this project,” says Chang. “It’s been really inspiring how a lot of musicians are coming together to support this cause for no pay. And the reaction of the staff— it’s been very rewarding to see.”
Currently running the project from her native Korea, where Covid-19 is well under control, Chang looks forward to pursuing her concert and teaching career in the United States in the near future.
In the meantime, she says, “my sincere hope is that this project will reach a lot of people and heal, comfort, and uplift them, even for five minutes of their difficult day to really be comforted and at peace with this music.”