Rauh’s album composed during LSU Vet Med artist’s residency is released this month

December 20, 2023

Harnessing the Power of Music for WellnessCharlie Rauh plays guitar

“Art in its varied forms is an avenue for teaching, healing, discovering, and protecting and greatly enhances what we do at LSU Vet Med.” —Dean Oliver Garden

“I hope that this translation through sound is received as a witnessing.” —Charlie Rauh

Musician-composer Charlie Rauh composed 13 miniature songs written for solo guitar and LSU A Cappella Choir members resulting in Theoria, an album that arose out of Rauh’s artist’s residency at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, where he set out to musically translate the work being done at LSU Vet Med. The album, released this month by Destiny Records, is available on all streaming platforms. To listen, go to https://linktr.ee/theoriamusic 

“The songs are my translation of the incredible experience I was honored to participate in as the 2023 artist-in-residence. The music was inspired by the people and animals I spent time with and was intended to promote the wellness of all,” Rauh said.

Over the course of five weeks spanning August and September, Rauh interacted with veterinary clinicians and their patients, observing the nuances of what it meant to pursue wellness. Utilizing solo guitar and choir arrangements performed by members of the LSU A Capella Choir under the direction of Dr. Alissa Rowe, Rauh intended to compose a type of music that would serve both doctor and patient.

“My time at LSU Vet Med allowed me to create art that is centered in wellness. It led me into personal and creative territory I’d never ventured into, which also redefined my understanding of wellness. This music needed to fully encompass the joy, fear, uncertainty, hope, and focus intrinsic to the pursuit of being well. It needed to honorably represent the practitioners and patients who inspired its creation. I hope that this translation through sound is received as a witnessing. Theoria, the title of my album, is translated from Greek: “to gaze at; to contemplate with the eyes or with the mind; awareness of divine realities,” said Rauh.

On a Tuesday night in September, nearly 100 guests from New Orleans to the east and Lafayette to the west arrived at LSU Vet Med—some for the first time—for our Artist-in-Residence Concert featuring musician-composer Charlie Rauh. Some had read stories in the media and were intrigued by the notion of an artist in residence at a veterinary school. Others had invited Charlie into their treatment rooms and their sphere of trust, where he steeped himself in the world of clinicians and their patients and made music not only for them, but of them.

The evening concert vibrated with the mesmerizing sounds of 13 songs Charlie composed born of his interactions with clinicians, animals, and researchers, including four songs sung with sensitivity and power by members of the LSU A Cappella Choir under the direction of Dr. Alissa Rowe.

“The songs he composed arose from deep within the heart of LSU Vet Med in relationship with our people and the patients and clients we serve. New music, interdisciplinary connections, and exploratory pathways to wellness were generated during this residency,” said Sandra Sarr, who manages the Artist-in-Residence Program.

The 2023 residency explored how music contributes to the wellbeing of both animals and people. Charlie often could be found playing his guitar softly during treatment sessions with patients and clinicians, which appeared to create a soothing atmosphere for both.

“It’s been fun to see the response of some of the animals when they hear Charlie’s music while we’re treating them. Charlie would know what tunes they were responding to. They kind of figured out what he was doing, interacted with him, and then started to relax,” said Dr. Kailyn Scott, associate clinical professor of Integrative Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Charlie observed our clinicians in action in the Large Animal Hospital, the Wildlife Hospital, Neurology, Oncology, Cardiology, Emergency & Critical Care, Research Labs, Community Practice, Integrative Medicine, Anatomy, Ophthalmology, and Osteopathy. Initial meetings with clinicians that occasionally began tentatively always concluded with enthusiasm and willingness to explore what music might add to wellness efforts at the vet school.

“I wanted to create a sound that could invite the sense of trust and hopefulness that defined my experience at the school, while not shying away from the emotional complexity inherent in medical treatment,” said Rauh.

The effects of music on wellness have been well documented in humans, and studies with domestic and other animals have revealed that music also has a powerful effect on them, according to Dr. Susan Wagner, veterinary neurologist and co-author of Through a Dog’s Ear.

Sparked by this residency, discussions are taking place among LSU faculty in Integrative Medicine, Music Therapy, and Neurology about potential ways to expand and measure the efficacy of music and wellness in animals.

Engaging the LSU community across disciplines was an important aspect of the 2023 residency with the of the School of Music, just as it was with the School of Art for the 2022 residency.

Dr. Eric Lau, Dean of the College of Music and Dramatic Arts, said during his opening remarks at the concert, “This world premiere performance is something very special. It is rare to see the composer and the musicians on the same stage performing together, and it is an exciting and enriching opportunity for our students to be able to work directly with the composer on the first performance of this beautiful music. We are so excited about this collaboration with the vet school.”

Charlie also helped connect LSU Vet Med across campus by making guest appearances in the classrooms of Dr. Kamile Geist, associate professor of music therapy and Ava & Cordell Haymon Endowed Chair, Dr. Alissa Rowe, associate professor and Galante Director of Choral Studies, and Dr. Christine Cloud, LSU Libraries Special Collections and English literature honors instructor. Charlie’s music, up until now, had been inspired by literature, including that of the Brontës, Phillis Wheatley, and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

Giving his all throughout the residency, Charlie performed weekly Music at Noon, playing guitar music for faculty, staff, and students to enjoy during their lunch breaks. He accepted every invitation, including Dr. Rebecca Christofferson’s to join her at 8 a.m. visit to jazz pianist Bill Evans’ gravesite where she collects insect specimens in the cemetery for her research. He even played his guitar at the request of Anatomy professors wanting to ease the stress of new students as they practiced hands-on techniques in the lab.

“It was a chance of a lifetime to clearly look at the elements that make all life worthy of protection, care, and healing,” Charlie said.

His song collection, Theoria, released in December by Destiny Records, is available to LSU Vet Med to use in waiting rooms, treatment rooms, in our videos, for student listening at their leisure.

“The time I was fortunate to spend at LSU School of Veterinary Medicine as their first composer in residence this summer was a truly magical experience. The challenge of writing solo guitar and choir music as a sonic translation of wellness took me into such wonderful territory, I hope you enjoy these special lullabies,” Rauh said.

Album garners rave reviews:

“Tones that emanate healing and calm for souls in need.

Theoria aligns the vibrations of the heart.” —Roadie Music

“Charlie Rauh’s latest album, Theoria, is not just a musical creation; it’s an immersive journey into the heart of empathy, care, and healing, born out of his artist residency at Louisiana State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine. The album, released under Destiny Records, stands as a unique and heartfelt exploration of the connections between humans and animals, conveyed through a lullaby cycle for solo acoustic guitar and a 6-piece choir.” —musikpool

“Theoria is a unique project with a strong thematic focus.” —Beach House


About LSU Vet Med: Bettering lives through education, public service, and discovery

The LSU School of Veterinary Medicine is one of only 33 veterinary schools in the U.S. and the only one in Louisiana. LSU Vet Med is dedicated to improving and protecting the lives of animals and people through superior education, transformational research, and compassionate care. We teach. We heal. We discover. We protect.