Posts Tagged ‘Piano’

Five Stars in Any Language

April 5, 2010

Marlow and Frances Cowan, the Ankeny, Iowa couple whose impromptu piano duet in the Gonda building atrium at Mayo Clinic has been seen more than 7 million times on YouTube, are now officially international media sensations.

Their original duet, which was captured by another patient, posted to YouTube by her daughter and posted to Sharing Mayo Clinic a year ago Wednesday, led to them being flown to New York in May to appear live on ABC’s Good Morning America.

Their return concert in February, which was covered by several Minnesota TV stations, led to their appearance Sunday night on NHK, Japan’s largest television network, based in Tokyo.

Frances and Marlow Cowan via Webcam to Japan

To see the Japanese piece, click this link and skip ahead to the 1:20 mark.

The Des Moines Register also has a nice follow-up column about the Cowans and their adventures of the past year.

Some videos don’t translate well culturally; for instance, I don’t understand what is funny about the black cat story that preceded the Cowans on NHK.

But as you can see by watching their international TV debut, the Cowans are five-star performers world-wide, in any language.

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Mayo Clinic “Octogenarian Idols” Appear on Good Morning America

May 25, 2009

Marlow and Frances Cowan, the Iowa couple whose piano duet in the atrium of Mayo Clinic’s Gonda building has been viewed more than 2 million times since April 7, were featured this morning, May 26, on Good Morning America, live from ABC’s Times Square studio in New York.

I had an opportunity to interview Mr. and Mrs. Cowan last week in their Ankeny, IA home. They shared the story of their trip to Mayo Clinic and how their impromptu concert made its way to worldwide fame, as well as the philosophy of life that shows in their YouTube performance:

Mr. Cowan was 89 last September when the original video was shot; he turned 90 in February, which officially makes him a “nonagenarian idol.”

See the original post that includes their piano duet here, and click here to see the story of Sharon Turner, the Mayo Clinic patient who shot that video, as told by her daughter Jodi Hume, who uploaded the video to YouTube.

See also Mayo Clinic’s YouTube channel, Facebook “fan” page and Twitter account.

Update: See the Cowans’ Good Morning America appearance on the ABC Web site.

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A Bite of Life…

April 23, 2009


When I think about my family’s history with the Mayo Clinic, I immediately think of the kitchen ceiling in my childhood home, where a pale orange circle about the size of a basketball is forever stained into the plaster. Most people probably wouldn’t even notice it’s there, but we do. It has a story, of course. Not an entirely cheery one, but we have a family philosophy that if it makes for a good story… you really can’t complain.

My mother, Sharon, had her first tumor in her jaw just after my birth in 1973, and it cost her four teeth and a large chunk of jawbone. 1977 brought the birth of my younger sister, Britney, and another tumor. This one took a deeper, “U” shaped piece of the bone. A year later, a third tumor took the entire lower left quadrant of her jawbone, which was replaced with a metal rod. Winter always meant thick scarves wrapped around her head because the rod would get cold and radiate a monster ice-cream headache.


Mayo Clinic Music Fun

April 7, 2009

We’ve highlighted the contributions of music to the healing environment at Mayo Clinic in some previous posts, but here’s another video from last fall that we discovered on YouTube. The exuberance of this older couple playing in the Gonda Building will brighten your day.

For more background on how this video came to be, see the touching story of the patient, Sharon, who captured it, told from the perspective of her daughter, Jodi, who accompanied Sharon to Mayo Clinic for the first time last September.

Update (2/27/10): Mr. and Mrs. Cowan returned to Mayo Clinic this week and provided a concert for visitors and staff. See this post to watch video of that special event.

For information on Mayo Clinic’s other social media sites, including our Facebook page and YouTube channel, see 10 Ways You Can Use Mayo Clinic’s Social Media Tools.

Update 5/25/09: See this post for an interview with Mr. and Mrs. Cowan at their Ankeny, Iowa home.

Click here to read and listen to other Mayo Clinic patient stories.

Update (5/10/09): This morning’s Des Moines Register has a feature on the Cowans and how they’ve become a YouTube sensation without owning a computer. If you enjoyed this video, you’ll want to be sure to check that out, too.

If you would like to share this video with others, use the sharing toolbar below to post to Facebook or other social sites, or copy and paste the URL into an email or post to Twitter.

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Update (5/3/10): You may also enjoy this 1996 feature story about Mr. and Mrs. Cowan, which Iowa Public Television recently uploaded to YouTube:

15-year-old Pianist Touches Hearts and Souls

April 2, 2009

Catherine Benson is a consultant in Public Affairs at Mayo Clinic.

Alex Walton-Creutz began drawing crowds by playing the piano at Mayo Clinic when he was just eight years old and started coming to the clinic with his mother, Lynnette. Lynnette is a patient at Mayo and comes for treatment at least once a year. When he was eight, Alex was playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and the Pathetique Sonata. At 15 he’s moved well beyond Beethoven, to playing his own compositions. Alex plays by ear and is always composing.

“Our prayer is that Alex’s music will touch someone’s heart and soul and make their day go a little bit better,” says Lynnette. Judging from the number of people listening to Alex’s music the afternoon when this was filmed, he has already touched many hearts.

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Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star: Music to Brighten the Day

March 30, 2009

As an employee at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, I find myself frequently scurrying through the many buildings on the downtown campus as I go about my day. One of my favorite places to walk through is the subway level of the Gonda Building, also known as the Nathan Landow Atrium.

Gonda Building piano

Sitting in front of a two-story high wall of windows is a beautiful grand piano that is available for anyone to play. It’s not uncommon to hear patients, visitors, volunteers and staff share their gift of music with those in the area. Since music is an important and enjoyable part of my life, I find myself looking forward to walking through the building and hearing people play the piano or accompany themselves while singing a favorite song. Whether the person is playing a classical piece, a popular song, a song from a musical, a jazz composition, a favorite hymn or a recital piece, I’ve been touched numerous times by the people sitting at that piano. (more…)