Nurse’s composition performed by Philharmonia

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A Louisville cardiac nurse heard his lifelong dream come to fruition when a piece of music he wrote was performed by the Louisville Philharmonia.

Paul Rom, RN, surgical first assist for Baptist Health Medical Group Cardiac Surgery, first conceived the idea for a piece of Christmas music nearly 20 years ago. An amateur musician and composer with no formal training, he worked his ideas into a five-movement mini-suite, “The Angels Danced on Christmas Day,” which represents the events that took place on the hillside in the Gospel of Luke. His church organist helped to score the music and develop some of the accompaniment, and the piece was performed for his church congregation in 1996.

Rom said he made a rough demo CD after that, but then “it sat in my briefcase for 18 years.” After moving to Louisville in 2008, he made several halfhearted attempts at finding an orchestrator. Then, in 2014, he decided to try again and found a Nashville orchestrator on the Internet, Carl Marsh. The two collaborated for seven months via phone and email until they had a finished product.

After sending a presentation to 25 orchestras in the eastern U.S., Rom had no takers. In May, he was diagnosed with liver cancer, and the day before he went into the hospital for liver resection surgery, he happened to see an article in the Courier-Journal about the newly formed, musician-run Philharmonia. He clipped it and put it aside.

Rom recovered from surgery, and began his quest anew, contacting the author of the C-J piece to learn more about the Philharmonia. The orchestra agreed to audition the piece and accepted it in late August.

And so, finally, “The Angels Danced on Christmas Day” was performed as Rom envisioned; the 10-minute piece was included in the Louisville Philharmonia’s Christmas program, held Dec. 4-5, 2015.

“I could never have accomplished this without the encouragement of my wife, Susan,” Rom said. “She provided tremendous support while we were getting the piece orchestrated, and especially during my cancer diagnosis, surgery, and recovery.”

Now, Rom has new aspirations for the piece – he has spoken with a local ballet company about the possibility of choreographing it; he would like to have it performed by a major symphony orchestra in the U.S. or Europe, and he would love to have it recorded.