On May 11, the Nebraska Medical Orchestra premiered a new orchestral work composed by one of its own. Distant Reality, composed by Nick Yeutter, M.D., is a tribute to health care workers. Dr. Yeutter is an Internal Medicine Resident Physician at UNMC who holds a master of music degree in music composition from NYU and plays clarinet in the Nebraska Medical Orchestra (NMO). He saw firsthand the fatigue and exhaustion of health care workers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. In an interview with UNMC Today, Dr. Yeutter shared that “this has been an unprecedented time. Distant Reality is the best way I could recognize those frontline workers. It was also a great opportunity to bridge my two lifelong passions and careers: medicine and music.”
Dr. Matthew Brooks, Director of Orchestral Activities in Music & Medicine, and the conductor of the NMO, noted that “Nick is a valued part of the Nebraska Medical Orchestra, and [he is] always excited to highlight the talents of our members.” During the pandemic, he asked Dr. Yeutter about composing a work for the NMO. “The bones of this piece were written pre-COVID. I got the opportunity to flesh this out during the pandemic,” Dr. Yeutter explained. Originally sketched for string quartet, he expanded the piece for full orchestra. Dr. Yeutter hopes it will prompt reflection on the pandemic and hope for the future. “There is a swell toward the end that symbolizes reaching the light at the end of the tunnel.”
The Nebraska Medical Orchestra—a Music & Medicine partnership between the UNO School of Music and UNMC—is an inclusive community orchestra comprised of health care-related musicians from diverse musical backgrounds. Currently, its musicians represent UNMC, Nebraska Medicine, Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, Clarkson College, Creighton University, Methodist Hospital, and private practices. In 2021, the NMO expanded to include the Nebraska Medical Choir under the direction of Dr. Kati Cox. For information about the Nebraska Medical Orchestra & Choir, or to join either ensemble, contact Dr. Brooks.