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An orchestra made up entirely of doctors is playing in Arizona this weekend

For most of the year, Dr. Jonathan Lass is an ophthalmologist. He’s also a clinical professor at University of Arizona and Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. But every once in a while, he puts down his eye-related research and picks up a cello bow for the World Doctors Orchestra. It’s an orchestra made up entirely of physicians from around the world. This weekend, they play in Arizona.

"It really is an extension of our medical mission, in terms of caring and compassion and extending the joy of music and also helping these charities," he said.

Lass is a founding member of the World Doctors Orchestra. He played at their first concert in 2008 in Berlin and organized the second concert in 2009 in Cleveland. The orchestra has grown from 80 members to nearly 2,000. There are usually four sessions a year, where around 100 members of the orchestra will come together to perform. The physicians typically get the music two months in advance, but they have less than a week to rehearse together.

"They’re pretty intensive. We start at 9 o’clock till 6 o’clock, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday," Lass said.

Long before the World Doctors Orchestra was founded, Lass was organizing his own orchestra made up only of ophthalmologists. He thinks this is why he was invited to be in the World Doctors Orchestra.

"We just performed at our national meeting. … It’s just very tricky to pull off these concerts at a scientific meeting. But we did it just for 15 years. ... They must have heard about me, on the web or something," Lass said. "So I was … sent an invitation, I didn’t know what this was, and so I went to Berlin and it was an unbelievable experience."

Lass says since 2008, they’ve raised over 2 million euros — or almost $2.2 million — for local medical charities.

You can catch 90 doctors from around the world playing Friday, April 5, in Scottsdale and Saturday, April 6, in Mesato raise money for St. Vincent de Paul Virginia G. Piper Medical Clinic. 

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Amber Victoria Singer is a producer for KJZZ's The Show. Singer is a graduate of the Water Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.