Seven years ago, conductor Ronald Braunstein, who has bipolar disorder, “founded an orchestra of musicians with mental illnesses,” writes Jeremy Reynolds in Sunday’s (9/30) Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Braunstein’s Me2/orchestra, “no relation to the movement against sexual harassment and assault—has grown to nearly 60 members in the flagship ensemble in Burlington, Vt., and has branched out with affiliate ensembles in Boston, Atlanta and Portland, Ore., with Pittsburgh poised to start its own chapter.… Flavio Chamis, a musician and conductor in the Pittsburgh area, has been working with several researchers and psychiatrists at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to launch the ensemble…. A small number of patients who play instruments are already asking when rehearsals begin…. Chamis also has helped organize a concert to raise funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention [featuring] musicians from the Pittsburgh Symphony as well as poetry readings by local writers…. There’s increasing interest … in exploring the ways music and the arts affect the human brain…. At an early planning meeting for the Me2/Pittsburgh chapter, an interested patient … asked if it is fair to say that music can reshape and reform the brain. The answer, according to the UPMC doctors present, is ‘yes.’ ”

Posted October 2, 2018