Me2/Orchestra, helping musicians with mental illness before and during the pandemic

Posted on: September 9, 2020

“The 1970s and early 1980s were heady times for classical music conductor Ronald Braunstein,” writes R. Scott Reedy in Thursday’s (9/3) MetroWest Daily News (Framingham, MA). “He had no sooner graduated from the Juilliard School when he became the first American to win the prestigious First Place Gold Medal in the Herbert von Karajan International Conducting Competition…. His life and his career began to change in 1985, however, when he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. His subsequent struggle to maintain good mental health, coupled with his desire to help others with similar conditions, led Braunstein [in 2011] to co-found, with Caroline Whiddon, Me2/, the world’s only organization for classical musicians living with mental illness and the people who support them…. There are no auditions, membership is open to anyone who can play an orchestral instrument, and no questions are asked about whether an applicant has a diagnosed mental health condition.” In the article, Braunstein and Whiddon discuss their efforts to erase the stigma around mental illness and addiction, and proceeding during the pandemic with Zoom meetings and socially distanced rehearsals. Read more about how orchestras and musicians are helping to destigmatize mental illness in Symphony magazine.