Winnipeg trumpeters toot horns for health-care workers on COVID-19 front lines

By | May 3, 2020

A travelling band of Manitobans is blowing its horns to give thanks to health-care workers on the front lines of COVID-19.

On Saturday evening, nine trumpet players serenaded nurses, doctors, health-care aides and others from a distance outside the main doors of Winnipeg’s Victoria General Hospital.

When Polly Pachu, who works in the cardiology department, heard an announcement over the intercom about the performance, she said she appreciated that people had braved billowing winds to perform in front of her workplace.

“I feel this is so encouraging for us, and for people to come out in this windy weather and cheer us up,” she said, wishing more people could take a few moments to briefly escape and enjoy the sound of music.

Polly Pachu, who works in the cardiology department, appreciated the performance at her workplace. (Dana Hatherly/CBC)

The World Health Organization labelled the global spread of the novel coronavirus a pandemic on March 11. The following day, Manitoba public health officials announced the first three presumptive positive COVID-19 test results in the province.

Now Manitoba is preparing to reopen for business — as hospital workers brace for the potential negative consequences of loosened restrictions.

Band members set up three meters apart to serenade health-care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Dana Hatherly/CBC)

The trumpeters stood a three metres apart while playing Fanfare for the Common Man and Amazing Grace outside the south-end hospital.

The group set up the makeshift bandstand to play at St. Boniface Hospital last weekend.

“There are a lot of tears behind our instruments,” Cynthia Weaver said, who is a band director at Shaftesbury High School.

“It’s a very intense emotion that I don’t think I’ve ever felt while I’ve been playing my trumpet before,” she said. “More emotional than I ever anticipate, because we see [the health-care workers] standing there in their full coverage.”

Nine performers set up outside Victoria General Hospital on Saturday evening. (Dana Hatherly/CBC)

Without rehearsing together, the performers had sheet music clipped and taped down to music stands and projected through their phones and other devices as high winds roared around them, adding to the existing challenges of staying collected during the show and abiding by public health orders during the pandemic.

“It’s a very heart-warming feeling, but also it makes me feel glad to be able to say thank you to them,” said Weaver.

She said many of her students have parents and family members who are working on the front lines during the public health crisis.

She said her students continue to practise, despite not being in school. She’s instructed them to play their instruments out their windows or outside their homes every evening around 7 p.m. to pay tribute, while physical distancing.

A trumpet player fought the wind by using magnets to hold down sheet music. (Dana Hatherly/CBC)

“Thank you to these excellent musicians! You made our evening!” Victoria General Hospital said in a Facebook comment later Saturday evening.

The group plans on joining students from Maples Collegiate next Saturday at 7 p.m. to play outside of Seven Oaks Hospital.

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