Notable program is the key to making music at Anschutz


AURORA | They come to play the piano and to get away from the stress of studying medicine.

The grand piano in the lobby of the Fulginiti Pavilion for Bioethics and Humanities has become much more than a simple set piece since the building opened last year. Students, faculty and researchers from across the Anschutz Medical Campus are liable to wander in and find a kind of therapy in the 88 keys.

“I would say that piano in the foyer is played by students and faculty six to eight times per day,” said Therese Jones, interim director of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities. “It’s become this wonderful time-out for a lot of faculty and students who wander over here.”


This weekend, that grand piano is going to have plenty of company. For the second year in a row, Fulginiti will host a used instrument sale. Hundreds of pianos, electric keyboards, guitars and stringed instruments worth hundreds of thousands of dollars will be available to buy at Fulginiti from Nov. 15 to Nov. 17.

The sale is part of a larger program through the Rockley Family Foundation, a Colorado-based nonprofit dedicated to music education. The nonprofit organizes dozens of similar sales at universities across the country, including schools in Delaware, New York and Texas. The model is simple. All of the proceeds from the sale of the slightly used instruments will go toward buying new instruments and supporting music education programs.

“We provide instruments at a no-cost basis to a lot of schools and universities. For the sale coming up at Anschutz, the instruments that we’ve loaned over the past year will come up for sale,” said Tobin Rockley, president of the nonprofit. The instruments on sale will also come from music programs at other CU campuses and additional universities. “The program basically perpetuates.”

That effort to keep music vibrant makes sense at campuses like Boulder or Denver, sites with strong music and humanities departments. Rockley said he didn’t expect a call from a university medical school last hoping to bring the program to Aurora.

“I was a little surprised to take the call,” Rockley said. “Most of the programs that we’ve been doing are very targeted to music programs.”

It took a detailed explanation from Jones to make the connection between science and art clear.

Jones, director of the Arts and Humanities program at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, knows well that the distance between the arts and the art of medicine isn’t so far for the students, doctors and researchers who spend every day on the Anschutz campus. The link between the humanities and the science of healing is a central part of the mission of the programs at Fulginiti, and it’s part of what drove Jones to reach out to the Rockley Family Foundation last year.

There are plenty at Anschutz with the means to buy some of the more expensive items that will be up for sale this weekend (some of the pianos and violins can cost tens of thousands of dollars). More importantly, the campus has its own vibrant and dedicated musical community.

“There are a lot of musicians on this campus,” Jones said, adding that the campus boasts its own choir (The Arrhythmias) and well as its own orchestra (The Melomanias). She also pointed to a new initiative launched through the Center for Bioethics and Humanities linking music and medicine. “Since we’ve created this initiative, we’ve found we’re exploring not only who’s interested in music, but also how music is a healing modality.”

In September, the center hosted Richard Kogan, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Weill Cornell Medical College and co-director of the center’s Human Sexuality Program. Kogan lectured about the medical history of jazz composer George Gershwin, and he provided live piano accompaniment on an instrument provided through the Rockley Family Foundation. The nonprofit has also provided sheet music for the school’s orchestra and choir, and it’s responsible for the piano in the foyer that’s become such an important outlet for those on the campus.

Those contributions are right in line with the underlying mission of the nonprofit, Rockley said. Rockley, whose grandparents started a music store in the 1940s, insists the organization is all about nurturing musicians, whether they’re in a ballet program or studying to be surgeons.

“Our job is to create musicians at the end of the day,” he said. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be concert pianists.”

The Rockley Family Foundation used instrument sale will run from Nov. 15 to 17 at the Fulginiti Pavilion for Bioethics and Humanities on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. Sales will be by private appointment on Nov. 15 and 16. The pavilion will be open to the public on Nov. 17. For more information or to make an appointment, call 303-724-7591.

Reach reporter Adam Goldstein at 720-449-9707 or [email protected]