The Art of Medicine, The Science of Music: Meet Minnetonka’s Guitar-playing Doctor

by | Aug 2019

Daniel Volovets, a doctor and guitarist from Minnetonka who just released his first album, "Masquerades"

Photo: Alexander Tolchinsky

Minnetonka physician Daniel Volovets is also an up-and-coming classical guitarist.

Masquerade is an album that embodies the very essence of Daniel Volovets’s soul. It’s an ode to his adoration of music and passion for medicine: the two loves of this guitar-playing doctor’s life.

“There’s an art of medicine and a science of music,” the classical, flamenco and jazz guitarist says. “The art of medicine is not just about what you know. It’s about how you speak to patients. How you can connect to people, whether you’re creating a rapport, making them comfortable. Being vulnerable in many ways. And for the musical side of things, people tend to think only of the art part of it. But there’s a science to it: music theory and vigorous practice, which you don’t really see on stage.”

The 27-year-old recent medical school graduate, from Minnetonka, will start his psychiatry residency at Hennepin County Medical Center in the fall. The idea to be both a doctor and a musician came from others who walked the same path. Denny Zeitlin is a jazz pianist and doctor. Krzysztof Komeda was a composer and an otolaryngologist. Volovets’s main inspiration is his mother, Nataliya Ishkova, a singer and nurse practitioner in psychiatry. Volovets also mentions his brother, Adrian, a multi-instrumentalist.

Their parents bought Volovets his first guitar when he was 6. When his mom saw him try to learn Gypsy Kings by ear, she enrolled him in guitar lessons with Anatoly Shapiro, a classical guitarist from Kiev, Ukraine. Then, at the age of 11, Volovets began taking lessons from local jazz and flamenco guitarist Tony Hauser.

“He was a prodigy,” Hauser says. “You don’t see those very often on the guitar.”

Hauser says Masquerade “has a different, passionate, Russian flavor and aspects of Brazilian and flamenco and jazz—all the things he studied worked into his own creations.”

Volovets calls it neo-renaissance jazz. “It’s a combination of baroque and renaissance music with jazz harmonies,” says Volovets. It’s his seventh studio album.

In addition to performing and recording, Volovets also wants his music to echo down into the next generation. He teaches guitar to students age 5 to 85. He believes in community and wants to give back. It makes Shapiro proud.

“He is a good person, real, hard-working and honest,” Shapiro says. “I am particularly proud of Daniel’s abilities as a composer and arranger, as he has developed a unique voice in his compositions while incorporating many influences and the work of the masters that came before him … At the end of my career, I’m thrilled that I have Daniel, in whose capable hands I entrust the continuation of my life’s work.”

And Volovets is making it his life work to pursue his bliss and be an example to others, to let them know that a person can pursue two paths in one life. “I would like to be able to ignite passion in people for the arts and the sciences, and for people to know that it’s possible to balance both,” he says. “I hope that what I’m doing can be inspirational to others as well.”

Find Masquerade and learn more at


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