The Collective

Col•lec•tive (n) \kə-ˈlék-tiv (n.): “Parts assembled into or viewed as a whole”

History of the BBSC

The History of the Baby Blue Sound Collective: 

Beginning in ~2003, Professor Robert H. Anderson, MD, an internationally known cardiac morphologist, as well as classical pianist, began to incorporate classical musical recitals during the annual pediatric cardiology meeting in London: “Cardiology in the Young”. The performers were typically lecturers and instructors in the course, and the performances were classical in nature, always acoustic, and always popular.

In 2006, Gil Wernovsky, MD was honored as the Bonham Carter Lecturer at the course in London, which was dedicated to celebrating the career of Professor Marc de Leval, a renowned pediatric heart surgeon at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. Bob learned of Gil’s interest in jazz and pop music, and introduced him to Karen Harrington, MD – a pediatric critical care specialist visiting London from Montreal, and an accomplished vocalist. Together, they performed a few songs to “roast” and celebrate Professor de Leval. This marked the first time that non-classical music was performed at Cardiology in the Young, and the seeds of the BBSC were born.

The name was modified by the joining of forces from another group of clinicians performing in San Francisco which included Dr. Tom Karl, a pediatric heart surgeon, and Dr. Lisa Hornberger, a specialist in pediatric and fetal echocardiography. Tom and Gil were both on the faculty in Cardiology in the Young in 2007, and introduced a jazz element to the meeting ensemble.

Over the years, a number of physicians, nurses, therapists and other personnel caring for children with heart disease — who also had a passion for music — learned of “The Collective” and the group gradually changed, morphing into the current iteration of the BBSC. The backbone of the group was solidified by formation of a stable rhythm section (cardiologists and surgeons generally prefer stable rhythms) with the addition of Dr. Jeffrey Boris, an ambulatory cardiologist in Philadelphia and multitalented musician playing bass (principally), guitar and piano, as well as the addition of drummer Craig Kahn, a Boston native and current resident of Los Angeles.

Two clinicians from The Mayo Clinic – heart surgeon (and tenor saxophonist) Dr. Joseph Dearani and Respiratory Therapist (and pianist) Bryan Wattier are members of a jazz group based in Rochester, Minnesota, “Take Two”, and joined the collective in 2008 and 2009. Dr. Richard Donner, an ambulatory cardiologist and tenor/baritone sax player, rounded out the saxophone section, and will be joined by Adam Kleiner from Washington DC and Dave Sheppard from St. Petersburg Florida.  A large number of vocalists, horn players, percussionists and string ensemble players have joined in over the years.

Finally, members of BBSC have periodically joined forces with WOOSAH, a rock and roll band composed primarily of pediatric cardiac practitioners based in St. Petersburg, Florida; specifically all three heart surgeons in the Congenital Heart Institute of Florida – Drs. Jim Quintessenza, Jeff Jacobs and Paul Chai.

Thus, “The Collective” is truly that: “parts assembled into or viewed as a whole.” The BBSC currently performs at many of the pediatric cardiology and cardiac surgery medical conferences throughout the USA and Europe: the personnel of the band is different for each and every performance, and primarily depends upon who is on the course faculty at the particular meeting. The song lists and genres vary greatly, including classical, jazz, pop, musical theater, blues and rock.

The largest ensembles of the BBSC have taken place at the Annual Post Graduate Courses hosted by The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia each February in Scottsdale, Arizona alternating with Orlando, Florida. In addition, the group was honored by the American Heart Association in 2008 by performing at the
William J. Rashkind Memorial Lecture, dedicated to celebrating the combination of the humanities and a passion for caring for children with heart disease, and will be performing in Orlando in 2012, as well as at the World Congress of Pediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery, in Capetown, South Africa, in 2013.

Following their performance at the 14th Annual Post Graduate Course (Orlando, 2010), members of the BBSC in Philadelphia were approached by Mona Barmash, President of The Congenital Heart Information Network (TCHIN), and asked to consider recording a CD. TCHIN ( is an international organization that provides reliable information, support services and resources to families of children with congenital heart defects and acquired heart disease, adults with congenital heart defects, and the professionals who work with them.

The group enthusiastically joined forces with TCHIN, as the physicians, surgeons, and nurses etc. volunteered their time and travel costs to come to Philadelphia in May, 2010, including travelling from Brisbane Australia, Edmonton, Canada, Florida, Minnesota, California and New York. While in   Philadelphia, the group had their first performance at World Café Live (, a popular venue and site of many performances and live recordings. Portions of the costs of the live venue (with the support of Hal Real at World Cafe Live), as well as the awesome studio and recording time at Philly Sound Studio (Mariano Mattei and Rich King at and engineering (by Seth Barmash) of the CD were donated by many members of the Philadelphia community.  TCHIN, World Café Live and Philly Sound Studios have eternal thanks from the BBSC.

Proceeds from their 2010 performance in Philadelphia and sale of the CD benefit Spencer's Fund ( The fund provides crucial financial assistance for families and adults with CHD coping with expenses incurred during extended or far from home hospital stays - helping all families access the best care possible. In the United States alone over 35,000 infants are born with CHD each year. The CD was released in late 2010, and can be found here: 

Other shows have included a 29 member BBSC performance -  an entirely new show in 2011 at the 15th Annual Post Graduate Course for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease in Scottsdale, AZ, hosted by The Cardiac Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. As a follow-up to that performance, and in conjunction with the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Thoracic Surgery in Philadelphia PA, the BBSC had their second show at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, Monday, May 9th 2011.   Proceeds from the performance will directly benefit children and young adults with congenital heart disease.  The group also performed at the American Association of Thoracic Surgery Meeting in Minneapolis in May, 2013; The Pediatric Intensive Care Society in Miami in 2014, The Japanese Society of Adult Congenital Heart Disease in Osaka in 2016, and most recently back at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia in early 2017 

Our second Album: "Home. Tonight. Forever." was released in February, 2017.  See our Home page for download details!

Who We Are

The Baby Blue Sound Collective is an ensemble featuring pediatric cardiologists, surgeons, nurses, therapists and other medical professionals from Children's Hospitals around the world. In their day jobs, most of the group takes care of children with heart disease; but most are also researchers, educators and lecturers. Past and present members hail from Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Great Britain, Japan, South Africa, France and Norway, as well as over 15 different cardiovascular programs in the USA. The members of BBSC have found each other through a mutual interest in providing medical and nursing care for children and their families, as well as a love of music and the performing arts.

The BBSC has performed at many of the pediatric cardiology and cardiac surgery medical conferences throughout the USA and Europe. The personnel are different for each and every performance, depending upon the location of the particular meeting and the performers who are on the course faculty or attending the meeting (see history). Performances have contained as few as three and as many as 30 members. The set lists and genres are then chosen based upon the composition of ‘the collective” and are as diverse as the members, including classical, jazz, pop, musical theater, blues and rock.

Music, Health Care and Advocacy for Congenital Heart Disease

Gil Wernovsky MD, Jeffrey Boris MD and Tom Karl MD organize the Collective, and together work with charities and patient groups that benefit children and young adults with heart disease. Congenital Heart Disease affects 1 in 100 children, is the leading cause of death from birth defects in infants, and is more common than juvenile diabetes, cystic fibrosis and all forms of childhood cancer—combined. Over 11,000 children under one year of age require open heart surgery in the US alone, many of whom must stay in a hospital setting for weeks to months.

One of the missions of the BBSC is to support the children and their families in a “holistic” fashion. In addition to performing open heart surgery and other high-tech and intense treatments in our ‘day jobs’; we support grass roots organizations who provide aid and support to families going through the toughest times of their lives. Originally inspired by the efforts of Mona and Seth Barmash from The Congenital Heart Information Network ( and Spencer’s Fund (, proceeds from our recorded music and performances will directly benefit important efforts not traditionally covered by medical bills: social services, care packages, child life, financial assistance for families far from home, and important therapies for hospitalized children (including music!).

While great strides have been made in caring for children with heart problems, many of which were fatal just 1-2 generations ago, there remain many questions about longer term outcomes. How will the children fare as they go through school? What are the challenges they will face? What are their strengths, and how may these be improved? The BBSC remains committed to helping to answer these questions: by tirelessly pursuing improved treatments in our ‘day jobs’, and by using our musical resources and international networking to support research aimed at improving quality of life for children and young adults with CHD.