“When Ronald Braunstein conducts an orchestra, there’s no sign of his bipolar disorder. He’s confident and happy,” writes Michele Hollow in last Tuesday’s (1/29) New York Times. “Music isn’t his only medicine, but its healing power is potent…. Mr. Braunstein, 63 … was given a diagnosis of bipolar disorder at age 35…. He met Caroline Whiddon, [a French Horn player] who had been … given a diagnosis of depression and anxiety disorder…. Mr. Braunstein reached out to her about creating an orchestra that welcomed musicians with mental illnesses … the Me2/Orchestra…. ‘We were founded in 2011,’ in Burlington, Vt., ‘before the Me Too movement began,’ Ms. Whiddon said. In 2014, a second orchestra, Me2/Boston, was created. In between, in 2013, Mr. Braunstein and Ms. Whiddon got married. Each orchestra performs between six and eight times a year. Each has about 50 musicians…. They rehearse once a week. New affiliate ensembles in Portland, Ore., and Atlanta follow similar schedules…. The musicians are all volunteers. Ms. Whiddon raises money … from more than 100 donors.… At each performance, a few musicians briefly talk about their mental illnesses and take questions from the audience…. Mr. Braunstein said, ‘It has a positive effect on all of us.’ ”

Posted February 5, 2019

In photo: Ronald Braunstein conducts Me2 Orchestra in Boston, one of the orchestras he founded to reduce the stigmas around mental illness.