One in five American adults—nearly 50 million people—experience some form of mental illness every day. These issues are often exacerbated in winter, with 5% of Americans reporting significant seasonal changes in mood and behavior. Professional musicians, however, suffer from mental health problems at a disproportionately higher rate than the general population: Three quarters struggle with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
Despite these troubling statistics, there are also ample studies that demonstrate music’s positive effect on mental health. “Take a Stand: A Concert for Mental Health” intended to serve as a collective, supportive event for performers and audience members alike, as well as to raise greater awareness about the mental health crisis, provide resources, and work to remove the stigma associated with openly discussing these issues.
The concert took place in person at the South Hall of The Riverside Church (490 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10027).
The program opened with Never to Return by Métis composer Karen Sunabacka. This composition for string orchestra was inspired by the composer’s great-great-grandmother, who suffered from mental illness as a result of difficult conditions on the remote Canadian prairies. Two well-known staples of the repertoire followed: Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber and Symphony No. 5 in E Minor by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Both composers notably struggled with mental health issues during their lifetimes; these seminal works capture the anguish and intensity of their lived experiences, yet also demonstrate their humanity as they searched for hope and light in dark places.
Associate Conductor Danielle Jagelski conducted Sunabacka and Barber in her debut performance with PROTESTRA, while PROTESTRA Founder and Music Director Michelle Rofrano returned to the podium to conduct Tchaikovsky.
PROTESTRA’s concerts raise awareness about real-world issues through classical music performance while also contributing to positive change in a tangible way. To that effect, PROTESTRA donated a portion of ticket proceeds from this concert to two organizations that increase access to mental health services for under-resourced and vulnerable populations:
Open Path Psychotherapy Collective is a nonprofit nationwide network of mental health professionals dedicated to providing in-office and online mental health care—at a steeply reduced rate—to clients in need. Open Path envisions a just, compassionate world where all people can easily access the care they need to thrive. In partnership with mental health clinicians in private practice throughout the fifty states and Canada, Open Path provides middle and lower-income level clients with access to affordable mental health care.
IHI Therapy Center (Institute for Human Identity) is an NYC-based nonprofit psychotherapy and training center dedicated to fostering personal growth free of traditional gender, sexual orientation, and cultural biases. IHI’s vision is a world where everyone—regardless of their gender identity, sexuality, race, age, disability, or immigration status—can find safety and support through affordable mental health care that is respectful of their needs and experiences.