SymphonyCares & Clowns on Call Bring Music & Comedy to Children in St. Louis Hospitals

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The St. Louis Symphony, Circus Flora, and Build-A-Bear Workshop are partnering for series of performances for children at area hospitals.

Violinist Angie Smart and Claire “the Clown” Wedemeyer from Clowns on Call provide the entertainment. The performances are a mixture of music and comedy.

Smart plays crowd favorites and Wedemeyer keeps the children laughing. It is a routine Smart and Wedemeyer have perfected. The pair have been performing at area hospitals since 2012.

In addition to the entertainment, each child receives a stuffed-animal from Build-A-Bear Workshop.

Kira Stout, 9, attended one of the performances at Mercy Children’s Hospital in 2016. Her father, David Stout, said the performance served as an entertaining escape.

“When she heard they were here (at Mercy Children’s Hospital) she got very excited and wanted to come down and see it,” Stout said. “She just loved it.”

The hospital performances are part of the SymphonyCares program.

The goal of the program is to enrich people’s lives through the power of music.

 

Remaining Performance Schedule:

  • St. Louis Children’s Hospital

January 24, 2017

1pm

  • Mercy Children’s Hospital

March 29, 2017

10am

  • Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital

May 4, 2017

11am

 

 

 

A Little Shtick

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Claire “The Clown” Wedemeyer and Symphony violinist Angie Smart are in the business of smiles and laughter. Through Clowns on Call and SymphonyCares they visited Mercy Children’s Hospital this week and lifted spirits from room to room. A little shtick goes a long way to making children and their families feel a little bit better.

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On and On, and On, and On

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Friday night the Black History Month Concert: Lift Every Voice featured R&B/Gospel legend Patti Austin. She shared many stories with the audience and sang up a storm–but don’t blame her for the snow.

Patti Austin and St. Louis Symphony IN UNISON Chorus grab a photo op on the grand staircase.
Patti Austin and St. Louis Symphony IN UNISON Chorus grab a photo op on the grand staircase.

At intermission of the BHM concert, following a performance of Adam Maness’ Divides That Bind, the composer and Brian Owens, who read text by Martin Luther King, Jr., during the piece, meet with IN UNISON Chorus members backstage.

Brian Owens and Adam Maness with IN UNISON Chorus
Brian Owens and Adam Maness with IN UNISON Chorus

Saturday night I experienced one of the most surreal moments I’ve ever had at Powell Hall: a sold-out audience on its feet singing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” with a tribute band and the St. Louis Symphony. Nobody even asked them to, word for word from beginning to end: “Just a small-town girl/ Livin’ in a lonely world….”

Sunday the Heart Quartet, which is performing throughout February advocating for Women’s Heart Health, played at IN UNISON Church partner St. Philip’s Evangelical Lutheran.

Heart Quartet, aka "The Hearties": Anne Fagerburg, Shannon Farrell Williams, Dr. Dawn Hui, and Helen Kim
Heart Quartet, aka “The Hearties”: Anne Fagerburg, Shannon Farrell Williams, Dr. Dawn Hui, and Helen Kim

Also on Sunday, Symphony musicians played Dvorak’s Serenade for Winds, Cello, and Double Bass at Peace Lutheran Church.

Dvorak's Serenade at Peace Lutheran
Dvorak’s Serenade at Peace Lutheran

Monday morning, Angie Smart and Claire “The Clown” Wedemeyer entertained girls and boys at Mercy Children’s Hospital. All the kids they entertained were in isolation, so Angie and Claire made in-room performances.

Symphony first violinist Angie Smart and Claire "The Clown" Wedemeyer making their rounds at Mercy Children's Hospital.
Symphony first violinist Angie Smart and Claire “The Clown” Wedemeyer making their rounds at Mercy Children’s Hospital.

And on and on, and on, and on…throughout the St. Louis region…anywhere.

What It Takes

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What happens on stage, whether that stage be at Powell Hall or a child’s hospital room, takes a lot of hands and hearts and minds to prepare. And I’m not even talking about the orchestral concerts.

For example Mrs. Silva gave up a few hours to make a fork for Max of Where the Wild Things Are to use in the Tiny Tunes concerts for pre-K kids from Grace Hill Head Start.

The aftermath of fork-making looks like Louise Nevelson's studio.
The aftermath of fork-making looks like Louise Nevelson’s studio.
Finished fork
Finished fork

It took three St. Louis Symphony Volunteer Association members to create leaves for the children to wave during the concerts.

200 leaves on popsicle sticks
200 leaves on popsicle sticks

Meanwhile, the students at room13delmar, just across the street from Powell Hall, with Ilene Nodhouse, made this swell boat for Max, and a cool set too.

Max's boat
Max’s boat

But that’s just one show. Meanwhile, on Monday Community Programs Director Maureen Byrne was with Claire “The Clown” Wedemeyer and Symphony violinist Angie Smart working on some new bits to perform at children’s hospitals as part of SymphonyCares.

Claire and Angie tango
Claire and Angie tango

For one of the skits, it looks like Claire is doing a Joan Jett impersonation.

Claire channels Joan Jett
Claire channels Joan Jett

Those are just a few of the things we do around here when we’re not playing Bach.

Making the Rounds

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The Symphony musicians continue to make the rounds of places where people get together, whether sick or well, old or young. It’s kind of like the Symphony’s marriage with the community: in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer.

 

Angie Smart and Claire "the Clown" Wedemeyer bring Build-a-Bear to Mercy Hospital through the combined SymphonyCares and Clowns on Call programs.
Angie Smart and Claire “the Clown” Wedemeyer bring Build-a-Bear to Mercy Hospital through the combined SymphonyCares and Clowns on Call programs.
Xiaoxiao Qiang and Katy Mattis perform at Canterbury Park
Xiaoxiao Qiang and Katy Mattis perform at Canterbury Park.