Eastern Oklahoma VA Health Care System
Flutist Performs Celtic Music for Veterans
The Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center was filled with the melodies of old Ireland and the United Kingdom on March 19 as Amy Roark, a flutist with the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra, performed traditional Celtic folk music for Veterans and their families.
Roark entertained patients in several locations throughout the hospital with a flute, piccolo and penny whistle and performed Celtic jigs, reels, hornpipes and waltz music.
“With it being St. Patrick’s Day Week, I thought I would play some traditional Celtic music,” said Roark, who has performed with the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra since 2006. “People seem to really enjoy that.”
The music by Roark is part of the ongoing “Heart Strings” concert series which is made possible through the sponsorship of T.D. Williamson, Inc. Once a month, from October 2013 to December 2014, members of the orchestra perform for Veterans.
“Music is so healing and makes people happy. You see people tapping their toes and smiling.”
While Roark is accustomed to performing in large concert halls such as the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, she said she enjoyed entertaining patients at the hospital in intimate settings such as a waiting room.
“When we’re playing a concert, certainly that’s a lot of fun too,” she said. “But there is a little bit of a distance between you and the audience. This kind of setting is great because you do get that more personable and more immediate response. You see their enjoyment much sooner, because they’re right there.”
Roark said she enjoys performing in hospitals and has previously performed for hospice patients she has personally known.
“Any time I can go into a hospital and play, I think it’s a great service,” she said. “Music is so healing and makes people happy. You see people tapping their toes and smiling.”
Army Veteran Curt Russell got the opportunity to listen to Roark perform in the Main Lobby and was thoroughly entertained.
“I love this,” he said. “You wouldn’t hear this anywhere else in Muskogee, except here. It’s fantastic.”
Navy Veteran David Pait was one of three T.D. Williamson employees who visited the hospital on March 19 to watch Roark perform and, while orchestra music may not be his favorite genre, he said he not only enjoyed the music but also the reaction of the patients.
“Upstairs on the fifth floor, one of the patients said he was Celtic and it was really kind of cool to watch him,” said Pait, who served in the Navy for 20 years. “He’d close his eyes and he said he remembered what it was like when he was younger. It was very impressive today. I’m very impressed with what T.D. Williamson is doing for our Veterans.”
When asked what it was like to perform for a Veteran audience, Roark choked up and several tears ran down her face as she spoke about her grandfather, Woody Dennison, who served in World War II.
“He was part of the Battle of the Bulge in World War II,” she said. “I’ve always been super proud of him and he passed away a couple years ago. I have such a respect for Veterans.”