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A place for music’s healing powers

Guitarist Steven King plays near the waterfall in the Providence Center for Faith and Healing garden on the Sacred Heart Medical Center campus, where he is scheduled to perform in concert Thursday. (Jesse Tinsley)
Guitarist Steven King plays near the waterfall in the Providence Center for Faith and Healing garden on the Sacred Heart Medical Center campus, where he is scheduled to perform in concert Thursday. (Jesse Tinsley)

Garden at Sacred Heart provides serene backdrop for concert series

In some science-fiction movies, nondescript doors open to reveal alternate realities – a lush jungle, for instance, or an ocean beach.

Characters step through the doors and enter new worlds, alive with possibilities.

When you open the gate to the Providence Center for Faith and Healing garden on the Sacred Heart Medical Center campus, you’ll find a space alive with streams, waterfalls and lush vegetation. It’s like stepping into a science-fiction movie without any of the scary parts.

Providence employees, hospital patients and their families know the garden best, but each summer, community members discover it because of the Music in the Garden Concert Series held in this urban oasis.

Thursday at noon, the 2013 season begins, followed by concerts every Thursday through Aug. 15. At Holy Family Hospital on Spokane’s North Side, three Tuesday noon concerts will be held July 16 and 23 and Aug. 6. The free concerts are open to the public.

“The purpose is to bring lightness and sound and all the magical effects of music to people who live with suffering every day,” said Donna Madej, head of Providence’s music thanatology programs. “It’s beautiful to give them the gift of nature and live music in the summertime.”

The musicians love it as much as the audience.

“I have never gotten a ‘no’ from a request to play in our garden,” Madej said. “In addition to playing in a beautiful venue, the musicians like the idea that they are providing music for people who are in the hospital and their families. They know that these people are not likely to attend concerts in the public arena because of their circumstances. So the concerts are a way for local musicians to give back to the community.”

Steven King, the U.S. national guitar champion, will open the series, his fifth year performing in the garden.

“The setting lends itself to a different experience. You’re not in a restaurant or a club. You’re in an outdoor garden setting with the sun shining on you. It’s very meditative,” he said.

He won’t reveal what he’ll play Thursday because “I go with how I feel. If I’m picking up a meditative vibe, I will do something classical or something slow and romantic. And then I like to mix it up a little and go to the happy side of music.

“I play songs from different eras from people’s lives because you can think about a place in your youth where you haven’t been in a while.”

Expect some surprises Thursday from King.

“I like to surprise them with songs they’d never expect in guitar – like ‘What’s New Pussycat’ or the ‘Indiana Jones’ or ‘Harry Potter’ themes.”

Concertgoers should bring blankets, sunglasses and their lunches, if they wish.

Madej welcomes community members and just asks they be respectful of audience members struggling with illness.

Madej, the other organizers and the musicians hope more people will experience the feeling that comes when you step from the busy street – and away from busy lives – into the alternate reality offered in the serene garden.

“We believe in the healing aspects of music at Providence,” Madej said.



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