The Collective

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

The Performers


Gil Wernovsky, MD; keyboards, MIDI programming, song composition and group arranger.  Gil is a Pediatric Cardiologist and Cardiac Intensivist.
Tom Karl, MD; alto and tenor saxophones, guitar, bass, keyboards, song compositions. Tom is a Pediatric Cardiac Surgeon at Johns Hopkins All Childrens Heart Institute. Tom is the ‘section leader’ of the horn section, and has been responsible for many of the compositions, arrangements and program selections.
Jeffrey Boris, MD; bass. Jeff is an Ambulatory Cardiologist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).

Past and Present members of the BBSC include:
Barbara-Jo Achuff, MD; oboe. Barbara-Jo is a Pediatric Intensivist at Texas Children's Hospital
Armando Alfaro, MD; guitar. Armando is a Pediatric Electrophysiologist at the Hospital Nacional de Niños in San José, Costa Rica
Robert H. Anderson MD, FRCPath; piano. Bob remains active as a Cardiac Morphologist and is a former professor at University College in London the Institute of Child Health.
Emre Belli, MD; tenor and soprano saxophones. Emre is a Congenital Heart Surgeon in Paris.
Stuart Berger MD; trumpet. Stu is the Medical Director of the Heart Center, Acting Chief of Pediatric Cardiology and Professor of Pediatric Cardiology Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago
Philipp Bonhoeffer MD, FSCAI; violin. Philipp is former Professor and Chief of Cardiology and Director of the Catheterization Laboratory for Congenital Heart Disease at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London, and chairman of the medical board for the charity Chain of Hope. In addition to being an accomplished violinist, he is credited with the design and implementation of techniques used to replace heart valves without the need for surgery.
Lisa D’Allesandro MD; vocals. Lisa is a pediatric cardiologist at Texas Children's Hospital, and has been responsible for many of the vocal arrangements.
Paul Chai, MD; guitar. Paul is a Pediatric Heart Surgeon at Cornell-Weill in NYC
Joseph Dearani MD; tenor saxophone. Joe is a Pediatric Heart Surgeon & Chief of Cardiac Surgery and Program Director at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota
Marla Jan Wexler DeFusco, R.N., vocals. Marla is a Registered nurse at CHOP
Joseph DiRocco; vocals, alto sax, keyboards, percussion, drums. Joey is a member of the popular cover band, The Rockets.
Richard Donner MD; flute, alto flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor and baritone saxophones. Dick is a (retired) Pediatric Cardiologist at CHOP with a special interest in adults with congenital heart disease.
John Dysart, MD; percussion. John is a Pediatric Cardiologist at the Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan.
Mark Fogel, MD; saxophone. Mark is the director of Cardiac MRI at CHOP.
Chloé Gallagher RN; cello and vocals. Chloé is both a registered nurse and music instructor in Philadelphia, she currently works in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
Carmen Giacomuzzi, CCP; violin, viola and vocals. Carmen is the Chief of Pediatric Perfusion at Doernbecher Children's Hospital, and an instructor in pediatric perfusion at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.
Colleen Lavin Gordon, RN; vocals. Colleen is a Registered Nurse at CHOP
Joe Graziano, MD; keyboards. Joe is the Director of Cardiac Catheterization at Phoenix Children’s Hospital
Denise Haddocks, RN, MSN; violin. Denise is a Pediatric Cardiac Critical Care Nurse and Clinical Educator at the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Women and Children in Orlando.
Karen Harrington MD; vocals. Karen is a Pediatric Intensive Care Physician at Hospital St. Justine in Montreal.
Lisa Hornberger MD; vocals. Lisa is a Pediatric and Fetal Cardiologist and the Director of the Fetal Echocardiography Program at Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Hajime Ichikawa, MD; flute and tenor saxophone. Hajime is Chief of Cardiac Surgery in Osaka Japan.
Jeff Jacobs MD; drums and percussion. Jeff is a Pediatric Heart Surgeon in St. Petersburg, Florida
Marshall Jacobs, MD; guitar. Marshall is a retired heart surgeon at The Cleveland Clinic, and editor of the World Journal of Pediatric and Congenital Cardiac Surgery
Craig Kahn; drums. Craig is a computer software programmer in Los Angeles, California
Beth Kaufman MD; flute. Beth is a pediatric cardiologist and Medical Director of the Heart Failure Program at Stanford.
Adam Kleiner; tenor, alto and soprano saxophones. Adam is a Technical Manager for the CoStar Group, Inc., and has previously worked on innovative ways to combine the electronic health record with personal medical information.
John Laughter, Alto and Tenor Saxophones.  John is a member of Good Vibrations in Macon, Georgia
Harald L. Lindberg MD; Euphonium. Harald is a Pediatric Heart Surgeon at Rikshospitalet, University of Oslo, Norway.
Aimee Liou, MD; vocals. Aimee is a pediatric Interventional Cardiologist at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston
Amy Jo Lisanti MSN, RN, CCNS; vocals. Amy Jo is a Registered Nurse in Pediatric Cardiology, and the Clinical Nurse Specialist of the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at CHOP
Jeff Lites, vocals. Jeff works with child life at CHOP.
Leo Lopez, MD; vocals. Leo is a Pediatric Cardiologist and the Director of Imaging at Nicklaus Children's Hospital
Pete Macartney; guitar, cello, trombone, and general merriment. Pete is the lead guitarist for the popular cover band, The Rockets.
Vanessa Madrigal MD; vocals. Vanessa is a specialist in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at DC Children's Hospital.
Kelly McCarthy, PA-C; vocals. Kelly is a Cardiothoracic Surgical Physician Assistant at CHOP
Allison Messina MD; vocals. Ali is a specialist in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida
Cindy Myers, MD; guitar and percussion. Cindy is a pediatric cardiologist in Denver.
Daniel Penny MD; piano. Dan is the Chief of Pediatric Cardiology at Texas Children’s Hospital.
Christopher Petit MD; guitar and vocals. Chris is a Pediatric Interventional Cardiologist at Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston.
Michael Quartermain MD; guitar, vocals. Mike is a Pediatric Cardiologist and Echocardiographer at Wake Forrest.
James Quintessenza MD; guitar. Jim is a Pediatric Heart Surgeon in Kentucky.
Ingram Schulze-Neick, MD; cello. Ingram is the director of the National British Registry for Pulmonary Hypertension at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children.
Lara Shekerdemian MD; piano and clarinet. Lara is the Chief of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston.
Dave Shepard; guitar, trombone, piccolo trumpet, vocals. Dave is Music Instructor and ordained minister in the Tampa/St. Pete area.
James Steven MD; percussion. Jim is Chief of Cardiac Anesthesia and the former Chief Medical Officer at CHOP
Steven Testa; vocals, guitar, bass. Steve is the former Director of Major Gifts for CHOP Foundation.
James Tweddell, MD; banjo. Jim is the Chief of Cardiac Surgery at Cincinnati Children's Medical Center.
Bryan Wattier RRT; piano. Bryan is a Respiratory Therapist and Clinical Coordinator of Respiratory Care at the Mayo School of Health Sciences.
Simon Wernovsky; drums, percussion and didgeridoo. Simon is a free lance photographer and videographer in Philadelphia, and a member of The Rockets - a popular cover band in the Philadelphia area

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.