Category: Health Magazine, Summer 2024

Title:Professional doctor, amateur musician

Author: Racquel Nassor
Date Published: June 14, 2024
Psychiatrist Daniel Levine (M’80, R’84, Parent’12) has long enjoyed having a musical outlet. He now plays the bassoon for the NIH Philharmonia in his free time.
Psychiatrist Daniel Levine (M’80, R’84, Parent’12) has long enjoyed having a musical outlet. He now plays the bassoon for the NIH Philharmonia in his free time.

Daniel Levine (M’80, R’84, Parent’12), psychiatrist and founding member of Maryland-based Old Georgetown Mental Health Associates, LLC, is grateful to be able to play the bassoon in a community orchestra as fine as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Philharmonia.

Representing a wide range of professions, the NIH Philharmonia musicians volunteer their time to play in the orchestra. They’ve performed free, publicly available orchestral concerts for 19 seasons.

Noting that his fellow musicians are “great, dedicated, interesting people,” Levine says that the real force behind the NIH Philharmonia is its founder, music director, and conductor, Nancia DAlimonte, who is “so creative, so energetic, and so dedicated.”

“It’s wonderful—particularly as an amateur—to be able to play at that high level, and I’m very thankful for that opportunity,” he shares.

Levine appreciates how donations collected at the NIH Philharmonia concerts benefit programs like The Children’s Inn at NIH—a nonprofit that provides free home-like residential services for children and young adult NIH patients. He explains their work gives the musicians “that additional bonus of knowing your efforts are also benefiting these great programs.”

But playing with the NIH Philharmonia isn’t just about giving back to the community for Levine; he also appreciates the challenges of its technical rigor. “Part of my gratitude about being in the NIH orchestra—and working with our specific conductor—is that we get to play bucket-list pieces. Most non-professional orchestras would not dare try Stravinsky’s ‘The Rite of Spring’ or Bartók’s ‘Concerto for Orchestra’—two notoriously difficult orchestral pieces,” he notes.

While “playing music does not directly impact my psychiatric practice,” Levine says, “it does provide an important outlet for me, and helps me be a more rounded person.”

So it’s no surprise that he played the bassoon even as a busy Georgetown student. With a few other woodwind players in the School of Medicine, “we would do some informal pickup chamber music in the lecture hall during lunch,” he says.

Having first learned to play the bassoon in junior high school, he hoped to play in a quality orchestra like the NIH Philharmonia. When choosing his career path, Levine recalls his bassoon teacher, Carmela Echo, explaining that “you can’t be a musician and be a doctor as a hobby, but you can become a doctor and still be an amateur musician.”

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