2020 MusicusMedicus Donorarticle

Meet the Donors - NSW Doctors Orchestra


Published: 13/10/2020 10:00am

The NSW Doctors Orchestra - Musicus Medicus, are an extremely valued supporter of Sydney Eisteddfod year after year.

They directly help us in living out our mission to provide performers with ample opportunities to gain valuable experience and build on their performance skills for life.

The Sydney Eisteddfod NSW Drs Orchestra Instrumental Scholarship is one of our principal events which has been so generously sponsored by the NSW Drs Orchestra for the last 10 years. 

Since the event didn't go ahead this year with the world pandemic, we thought we'd tell you a little about the NSW Drs Orchestra and how it came to be, as it has an interesting story!

The NSW Doctors Orchestra was founded in 2004 by Sydney general practitioner and flautist Dr Cathy Fraser. She had played annually in the Australian Doctors Orchestra since its formation in 1993 and had the idea that doctors and medical students in NSW would welcome the opportunity to play music together more often than the national orchestra’s annual gathering.

Looking back now, Cathy is very pleased she managed to make this dream become a reality. Her idea proved to be a popular one, and the orchestra has gone from strength to strength in the 17 years since its inaugural concert.

Reflecting the Latin base of many medical terms, she decided to call the orchestra “Musicus Medicus”, Musician Physician.

Members range from first year medical students to retired doctors and cover general practice and all specialities. Players travel from all parts of NSW, rural, regional and metropolitan to play together.

We spoke with Cathy Fraser, president and founder of Musicus Medicus to hear more about their mission and how they've been doing during this uncertain year.

We asked Cathy why the NSW Drs Orchestra chooses to support arts organisations including the Sydney Eisteddfod each year. 

"Right from its beginnings, the orchestra has staged its concerts as fundraisers. A different medical charity is supported each year. In addition, we have chosen to actively support aspiring young musicians by including major donations to Sydney Eisteddfod over the last 15 years.

This has funded the NSW Drs Orchestra Sydney Eisteddfod Instrumental Scholarship (16-25 years) for the last 10 years. The scholarship final is a highlight in the year, when it is our turn to sit back and relax and witness the incredible talent of our young virtuosic musicians.

It brings us immense pleasure to hear news of the progress and activities of past winners and participants, knowing that we have made a valuable contribution to launching their musical careers. We remain committed to continue to fund the Sydney Eisteddfod scholarship.

We believe strongly that investing in the arts is a vital part of the health of our community. The orchestra’s activities provide us with the opportunity to combine our passion for music with our professional commitments in medicine".

Cathy then went on to say that this sentiment is reflected in their mission statement:

Musicus Medicus aims to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians by using the universal language of music to raise money for charities in medicine and the arts.

Cathy told us that the members of the orchestra have found their early experiences in Sydney Eisteddfod have helped them greatly in their future personal and professional lives.  

"Many players in the orchestra have fond memories of participating in Sydney Eisteddfod, and value the experience gained.

Remembering how working towards a performance helped their confidence in both music and life, they welcome the chance to give back to what was a launchpad for them in their own musical journey", Cathy told Sydney Eisteddfod. 

This year has been a difficult one for so many, including the Drs Orchestra, with many of their group events being cancelled all year round. 

"With the Covid-19 pandemic and its effects on public health policy, 2020 has been ‘annus horribilis’ for so many of us in many ways. It has faced medical professionals with unprecedented challenges and unknowable risks, and students with unimagined limitations. It has forced musicians to the point of crisis, no longer able to play together nor perform to an audience.

A year without our concert and without the Sydney Eisteddfod Festival just doesn’t feel the same. We had planned to perform on 31 May 2020 and postponed that to 26 September 2020 but due to ongoing restrictions were forced to postpone it even further.

Spacing of musicians on stage may limit the size of our orchestra, which will be difficult with so many players keen to get back. Social distancing may limit audience size and therefore income from ticket sales, so we are faced with many challenges.

Nevertheless, we are keen and determined!

Medicine and music have much in common. They both cover the full range of human emotion. The link is more relevant than ever during these challenging times.

So we are looking forward to being in a position to go ahead with our plans to stage our annual concert on 21 March 2021, albeit in a reduced capacity. We have so missed being able to play together and are longing for an easier less limited year".


Sydney Eisteddfod can't wait for our annual Festival to return next year!

We have so missed the feeling of seeing our performers live on stage doing what they love. 

In the meantime if you'd like to watch some talented performers this year, make sure to checkout our semi-finalists in Crowd Favourite Performances!

Vote for your Favourite performance before this Thursday, when the finalists with the least number of votes will be removed to reveal the final eight.  

The top FOUR from here will then be crowned the winners of the Crowd Vote and will each receive $1000!