A generous gift from the Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Gift Shop and Penn State Store enables Center Stage Arts in Health to increase the number of musical performance in the lobbies for 2019. Director Claire de Boer says, “We are fortunate that the volunteers who manage our gifts shops also recognize an additional level of serving the greater good by supporting music to inspire people who visit our hospital.”
Fund received by the gifts shops support artists such as Ralph Diekemper who started to play piano performances in the main lobby in 2018. Ralph, a solo artist from Harrisburg, said the best part of performing in the unique hospital environment is the smiles he receives from passersby. “The expressions of patients, visitors and employees almost always melt into a smile when they realize there is a live musician performing in their space,” he says. “Music is the universal language.”
Ralph says that performing for Center Stage is a natural extension to his musical journey. Known for original improvisational music and eclectic covers, Ralph performs to the space and most importantly to the people in the space. “I’ve always felt as if my music is an extension of the environment I’m in. The effect on people in the main lobby is immediate and heartfelt. People wandering through aren’t expecting live music and the smiles brought forth are warm and needed. As a musician, having your art impact so many people unexpectedly, in such a positive manner, is reward in itself.”
Ralph’s music has garnered airplay in all sorts of formats including TV, radio, short film, and video. His small ensembles have performed at major festivals throughout the East Coast and his solo piano performance is always unique in scope and design.