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  • Writer's pictureMarian Hubler

Marian’s Did You Know…. that in Ancient Greece They Would "Call the Musician" Before the Physician?

This was the prescribed routine at the Aesclepion, the first healing temple in Greece because the musician would play the right kind of music to make the “patient’ more amenable to the physician’s treatment. This intersection of healing and music has become the central life focus for Dr. Bruce Victor, volunteer performer and member of the Circle of Advisors for Bread & Roses Presents.

Dr. Bruce Victor -- musician, physician and author of the blog “Call the Musician.”

We are fortunate to have Bruce on our Circle of Advisors, for he has the perspective of a doctor who not only believes in the power of music to heal, but is a musician himself. Bruce’s accomplishments show him to be a renaissance man in his career as a physician as well as a musician. As a physician, he is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, an Overseas Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, and an Expert Consultant to the Medical Board of California. He is also a former Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco and is now “in the twelfth year of a sabbatical” so that he could focus more on life in music.

He also founded the Acoustic Vortex House Concert Series, which became a non-profit organization that benefited youth performers.

For the last nine years, Bruce has been a guitarist, cittern and bouzouki player as well as a vocalist in NOCTAMBULE ( an acoustic duo with his wife, the renowned mandolinist, Marla Fibish. To date, they have put out three albums: “A Sweetish Tune” (2017); “The Waking” (2015) and “Travel in the Shadows” (2013) with a fourth album coming in early 2021 “Every Migrant Is My Fellow.” The duo has toured nationally and in Ireland.

In June of this year, Bruce launched a blog Call the Musician (link) ( that explores the interface between music and healing. In his opening post, he writes that he had come to the realization that “there is a central common intention that forms the basis of work for both musician and physician – the facilitation of a greater interpersonal and intra-personal connection.”

He has also contributed generously to Bread & Roses in a number of creative ways. In 2006, we held a fundraising luncheon at the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco where Tuck & Patti did an inspiring set, surprising everyone at the end with their own generous “call-to-action.” They offered to perform an intimate house concert in exchange for a special contribution to Bread & Roses. Bruce came forward and invited them to play a Bread & Roses benefit as part of his house concert series. Opening the concert was the trio of Bruce, Stevie Coyle and me. As Tuck Andress said, it was a memorable evening of music with “infectious intentionality” all around.

He hosted several benefit concerts for Bread & Roses at the Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley as well as his home in Larkspur in his adapted “concert hall-living room.” The performers in these concerts included many long-time Bread & Roses supporters like Board member and musician Matt Jaffe, along with former Board member Greg Beattie and his wife Victoria Blythe of Calaveras.

Bruce has been a Bread & Roses volunteer musician for fifteen years. He has played with many different musicians through the years and as a Bread & Roses volunteer has performed over thirty institutional shows in a number of different creative collaborations that continue to this day.

Noctambule, aka Bruce Victor and Marla Fibish, entertain the seniors at The Tamalpais in Greenbrae in 2015. Photos by Peter Merts.

In 2008, he played his first concert at Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco with an Americana trio called the Triplicates that sometimes had four players including singer-guitarists Dr. Tom Neylan and Rory McNamara, and myself on vocals and percussion. Noctambule has also performed their blend of original and traditional music for Bread & Roses concerts at The Tamalpais, the VA Hospital in San Francisco, the Vision Impaired of Marin and the West Marin Seniors. From the essence story by Volunteer Host Linda MacVey after a Triplicates concert at the Pomeroy Recreation and Rehabilitation Center in SF:

The musical conversation shared through Bread & Roses between the Triplicates and the Janet Pomeroy Center transcends audience and performer, patient and physician, resonating within each, drawing up and returning to the other, hope and healing. ‘And it tastes so sweet I can hardly keep my feet from dancing.’

By Marian Hubler, Communications Manager / Producer


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