An Unusual Classical Guitar Sighting on a Popular TV Series
By Blair Jackson
The medical drama Grey’s Anatomy has been a hit TV show in the US (and many other countries) for a dozen years now, and the hardworking doctors and nurses at the fictional Seattle Grace Hospital have seen just about every known malady/emergency come through their doors, from people being impaled to sexual “accidents” to horrible unknown diseases and conditions; literally hundreds of distressing and at times fatal predicaments. But the episode that aired on April 7, titled “I Wear The Face,” might be the first that involved classical guitar!
In one of several subplots, an arrogant guitarist named Kyle Diaz, played by heartthrob Wilmer Valderrama (of That ’70s Show and American Horror Story fame) is being wheeled into surgery to deal with a tremor in his right hand caused by his previously diagnosed multiple sclerosis. Diaz was just about to embark on a 13-city tour as the opening act for some unnamed artist (“my big break,” he says) but he can’t realistically go on the road with his “wobbly hand.” He flirts unrelentingly with Dr. Stephanie Edwards (Jerrika Hinton), despite the gravity of his situation. He also has a guitar with him, because the surgeons are planning to keep him awake as they probe his brain looking for the where the tremor problem lies, and to see how their tinkering affects his motor (guitar-playing skills).
This being Grey’s Anatomy, of course there are “complications” during the procedure, some mild but frightening paralysis, perhaps triggered by some brain bleeding, and Diaz looks frightened as the doctors start pumping fluids of some sort (don’t ask me; I’m no doctor) into his brain to stabilize the situation. All the while, he’s got the guitar in his hands. Finally, the crisis passes (whew!), the feeling returns to his hands, and then, miraculously it seems, he manages to play a flawless version of the opening of Isaac Albéniz’s famous “Asturias” (or “Leyenda”). Perhaps the tour is saved! At any rate, Diaz is healthy enough in the recovery room to continue the annoying flirtation with Dr. Edwards, and word has it he will be a continuing character. I’m not sure that’s a good thing.
Now, normally I would have thought that the notion of a guitarist playing during a brain probe is far-fetched even by Grey’s standards, but when I watched the episode, I instantly remembered that I had read a story about just such a case within the past year. Indeed, there have now been a couple of real-life cases in which a guitarist has been asked to play during surgery to keep a tab on motor functions. This one, from last spring, involved a Brazilian guitarist named Anthony Dias, who was having a brain tumor removed. I trust that Mr. Dias did not make any inappropriate remarks to his surgeons.
If you’ve come this far in this admittedly silly article, you should at least be rewarded for your efforts. So, here’s Ana Vidovic playing “Asturias,” brilliantly.