Two years ago, Local 72-147 (Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX) member and Dallas Symphony Orchestra (DSO) principal trumpet Ryan Anthony was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a terminal bone marrow cancer. Anthony immediately began therapy and received a stem cell transplant in spring 2013.
During treatment, he received supportive calls from trumpet players all over the world. He would tell them, “We’ll all play a concert when I’m healthy again and we’ll call it ‘Cancer Blows’.” Eventually, Anthony’s light-hearted comment became a real event to raise awareness and money for cancer research. With Anthony’s cancer in remission, he, his wife Niki, and a devoted team of volunteers organized the first Cancer Blows (cancerblows.com).
As the event came together, it was spread over three days to include master classes and a panel discussion. “It would be a crime to have so many [trumpets] together in one city, and not let students and all musicians get a chance to experience it,” says Anthony. “This made the event a community-oriented project that would touch all ages. This is also what cancer does—it doesn’t discriminate on its victims.”
Altogether 26 trumpet players from coast to coast took part, including soloists like Doc Severinsen and Arturo Sandoval of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA), and Joe Burgstaller of Local 802 (New York City); 10 principals from orchestras across the US, and Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s trumpet section.
“To see these musicians all willing to give and donate their time was incredible,” says Anthony. “It was a gift of hope for patients and caregivers.”
This first Cancer Blows event raised $750,000, mostly from private philanthropy, with 100% of the proceeds going to cancer research. The Cancer Blows Foundation is putting together a DVD, CD (and downloads), plus a television broadcast to raise further funds and awareness.
There has already been interest in holding concerts in other cities and abroad, explains Anthony. “Music is the perfect way and stage to deal with such matters. It’s the healing power in music that can go beyond any words,” he says. “I hope to see Cancer Blows concerts in halls across the US.”
“My bi-weekly chemo infusions are keeping my cancer in remission, but this was better than anything they can put in my body,” says Anthony. “It healed my heart, mind, and soul, providing the hope and strength needed to win this fight.”
“The members of Dallas Symphony Orchestra were a major component in this and I couldn’t be prouder to sit on stage with this group of colleagues,” he adds. “They, along with DSO President and CEO Jonathan Martin and Maestro Jaap van Zweden, stood by my side during my diagnosis and treatments, and continue to provide strength and hope as I battle this disease.”