|conductor Ronald Braunstein|
In the past, mentally ill people were shunned. In Foucault’s book Histoire de la folie à l’âge classique the author described how in the middle ages, the idea of the Ship of Fools, as seen in a Bosch painting, came from the practice of trying to get rid of mentally ill people by putting them on a ship, with instructions for the captain to dump them off in the next community. There’s a lot of fear about mental illness. In many countries, mentally ill people are subject to cruel and inhuman treatment. Part of the idea of the program was to raise awareness about mental illness, to erase stigma and to increase understanding.
A trombone player described, while responding to a question, how when he put the trombone on the shelf and stopped playing music, things fell apart. To regain wellbeing, he went back to performing. He joined the Me2 orchestra. Some of the members of the orchestra have mental illness. It’s a compassionate and friendly group, without the high stress competitiveness that often occurs in the world of performance.
During a pause in the performance, a fundraising auction was held for Paradis Urbain an organization which provides services and support for the mentally ill. It was an enjoyable evening, beginning with Paul Merkelo playing the third movement from Hummel’s trumpet concerto in E flat. The orchestra also performed Beethoven’s Cariolan Overture and Dvorjak Symphony 8.