Me2/Orchestra Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary With Free Concert In Boston

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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — In celebration of its 10-year anniversary, New England's Me2/Orchestra will be hosting a free concert at Symphony Hall in Boston this Sunday.

The Me2/Orchestra is an orchestra composed entirely of musicians with mental illnesses and those who support them with the goal of working to reduce the stigma of mental illness. They'll be hosting a show called "Stigma-Free at Symphony Hall” Sunday, Jan. 23. Admission to the show is free for all.

Me2/Orchestra was founded by Caroline Whiddon and her husband Ronald Braunstein, who is an orchestral conductor with bipolar disorder. While the couple was living in Vermont, Whiddon said her husband came to her and said he wanted to create a safe space for musicians with mental illness.

"When you're playing Beethoven you can't think about anything else," Whiddon said. "It just has this wonderful transformative power and also just the power of expression."

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The group started with around 50 to 60 members but has since grown into a program that spans across the country, with affiliates from Boston all the way to Los Angeles. The orchestras consist of both people with and without mental illnesses, something Whiddon said was very important to the mission of the group.

"We really want to create our ideal community where people are working together no matter what type of mental health issues they might be living with," Whiddon said.

As the program celebrates its 10-year anniversary, Whiddon said she's happy the orchestra has given people the chance to have an opportunity to reduce the stigma around mental illness.

"So many people living with serious mental illness are not given the chance to shine," Whiddon said. "They appreciate the consistency of having the rehearsals and not having to think about the fact they're living with a diagnosis that can be so all-consuming."

The orchestras 10-year anniversary show starts at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 23 at Symphony Hall in Boston. Admission is free.

WBZ's Shari Small (@ShariSmallNews) reports.

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