Musical medicine

The Stellenbosch University Medical Orchestra (SUMO) recently performed on the Tygerberg campus, under conductor Reghardt Kühn, who has a Masters in Music (MMus), with specialisation in orchestral conducting.

The orchestra members are mostly MBChB students, with some of the university lecturers, other music educators as well as qualified doctors.

The allied health sciences are also represented by students from occupational therapy, speech therapy and dietetics. Two students studying dentistry through UWC also play in the orchestra. This is not a complete orchestra so some musicians, such as medical students from UCT, are hired to fill the orchestra when performing.

There is a need for funds and sponsors, says Mr Kühn.

“We have various aspects that could improve with an extra financial boost. We are not a complete orchestra, we are in fact quite small with a lot of holes to fill, thus I make use of colleagues to help fill all the gaps by hiring them in for concerts.

“This hiring of players take up most of our finances for the year, unfortunately we can’t afford to pay them the standard fees that are commonly provided by other institutions,” he said.

They also have to pay for the use of the rehearsal space, and make do with a piano that could do with some TLC after years of neglect. Additionally, the orchestra has started growing, and are in need of music stands, and money for percussion instruments, instead of having to hire them for concerts.

“Music making is our main goal, the orchestra members play because it helps them relax and get away from the mad rush of their degrees. We try to perform at least once a semester so that we have a goal to work towards.

“We had a huge exodus of players at the end of last year as some of the founding members graduated, along with that we also received a lot of new members this year. The goal for this concert wasn’t necessarily to raise funds, but was merely to introduce the new players to our performance platform.

“Our final concert at the end of the year will aim at raising funds for the following year and set the orchestra on a positive platform for 2017,” said Mr Kühn.

Two more concerts are planned for later this year – for information or to support the orchestra, email Mr Kühn at