Doctors in Recital gives back with musical showcase
By William Kopp
Many people would be surprised to discover that many physicians and doctors alike have a solid background in music.
Whether it be choir in high school or originally going to college for musical theater, a lot of people in the medical field have been involved in music in one way or another.
Doctors in Recital is an idea spun around just that; it brings out that musical talent from physicians and gives back to the community.
The physician-led nonprofit started back in 2006 as a group of physician partners and spouses.
Originally called the Brown County Medical Alliance, the organization began as the charitable branch of the Brown County Medical Society.
In regards to the history of the group, Current Board Chair Kim Shefchik said, “They would do different fundraisers and then help the community, so they decided, ‘wouldn’t it be fun if we put on a show.’”
And that’s how the recital was born.
The first show was rather small, with around 200 people attending and only raising a few thousand dollars for the community. But each year it seemed to grow and word about the show began to spread.
“To date, we’ve given away a grand total of basically up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in our community,” Shefchik said. “Half a million — we’re over that and we had to transfer from St. Norbert theater and then we went to the Meyer, and then we sold out at the Meyer so we had to graduate to the Weidner.”
The program continues to grow every year, even selling out at the Weidner in 2018.
Shefchik and the program
Shefchik’s involvement with the program started 14 years ago after being invited to join by a coworker Dr. Yoon Chun.
“She (Dr. Chun) found out I could sing and play piano and said ‘you need to do this’ and I got recruited to be in the show,” she said. “I was a music major for a whole semester, so you can see how that worked out. Sometimes you find out maybe your passion is not going to be your purpose, but sometimes it is a release.”
She performed in the show for a few years until things came to a tipping point.
“Things got hard in 2010, 2011, Alliance was actually dissolving and so we created our own nonprofit, which became Doctors in Recital,” Shefchik said. “There was a core group of people who had been in the show for a few years that wanted to keep it going.”
Shefchik started as the webmaster for the organization, also taking care of social media, and eventually, being the right person at the right time, was asked to become the board chair.
“I coordinate the moving parts,” she said. “As of Saturday, our application for 2024 goes live and we’ll need to start planning for next year. Each year we pick the recipient from the applicants, and it’s a lot of work reading through all of those and doing the interviews, so I help coordinate all of that.”
When picking beneficiaries for the program, the process of going through applicants can be a long and tricky one for the organization, and that’s not even including the fact that there are two different types of beneficiaries — community and music recipients.
Shefchik commented on the process, “So we spent quite a bit of time processing applications [in 2020]. We get community recipients that apply to be the main beneficiary — they get 80% of the funds we raise — and then we always select a music recipient because we want to promote music in our community. [We focus] especially in kids who might not have access to the type of music education at their school or because of their family’s ability to pay.”
For the beneficiaries, the team looks for specific goals and growth represented within each type.
“We have an application that we put together, we try to look for someone [for the community recipient] who has at least some of their operations in Brown County — our history goes back to being at Brown County Medical Society so we try to focus on a local Brown County organization. For community recipients the real question we look at is, is there a project or something that they’re hoping to expand or fund or grow? Because we like to be a part of something that’s moving forward, and also that it impacts the health and wellness of Brown County.”
For music recipients, Schefchik said the goals are largely the same.
“And then there’s our music recipients. Again, just looking to impact Brown County, and something that is growing student’s ability to work in the arts and do things in music and things related to their musicality or their music education,” she said. “And so we get those applications and then, depending on how many we get, we have a small group that tries to whittle that down and we take the top three and we interview them in person. They give us a presentation, and then our board votes and comes away with the people that we’ve chosen.”
The last time recipients were chosen was for the 2021 event, which got canceled.
Due to COVID-19, among other things, the time wasn’t right to bring back the event until this January 2023.
Brown County Community Gardens was chosen as this year’s community recipient, and the Birder Studio of Performing Arts and the Green Bay East High School Choral Department were selected as the music recipients for this year’s event.
This year’s show
With plenty of doctors and physicians performing, there’s a lot of variety in the acts which make up the show.
From pianists performing beautiful melodies accompanied by the melodic sequence of watching their hands work; to a group performing ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia;’ to Dr. Ralph Vardis writing a piece based on the recipients — there are plenty of performances to look forward to.
“It’s a wide range,” Shefchik said. “Pop music, jazz, country, classical and then we have a choir. So a lot of our choir members are not necessarily physicians, but people related to the medical field, so that’s always a nice opportunity to get nurses and radiology techs and other people on stage.”
She says her favorite part about the process, aside from the whole thing, is the show itself and awarding the money at the end.
“We always get one of those big checks like they have on The Price is Right, which feels pretty good to have this pretty good-sized amount of money with several zeros after it and just be like ‘we did that,’” Shefchik added. “You know, the show only lasts a couple hours, but I would like to think that we make an impact that lasts a long time.”
For only $25, anyone can purchase a ticket to the show for a great night of entertainment — and know that the proceeds go to a good cause.
As Shefchik put it, “I think if you’ve never been to the show, I want people to know that they will come away feeling like that was quality. That was fun. You will never see anything like it and it’s one of a kind.”
For those interested in attending, you can go to doctorsinrecital.org and TicketStar, or you can purchase tickets at the Weidner Center on the evening of the show.