Side By Side In Music, with Caroline Whiddon

New musicality video:

Today we’re talking with Caroline Whiddon, the co-founder of Me2/Orchestra, the world’s only classical music organisation created for those with mental illnesses and the people who support them.

The mission of Me2/Orchestra is to erase the stigma surrounding mental illness, including addiction, through supportive classical music ensembles and inspiring performances.

As a society we are only just beginning to figure out how to talk sensibly and openly about mental illness. In this interview we wanted to be respectful and tactful while also addressing head-on some of the stigma that Me2/Orchestra is trying to mitigate, such as the assumptions people have about how an orchestra of people with mental illness can actually function.

We talk about:

– Caroline’s own story of music and mental health and how it led to her meeting the co-founder of Me2/, Ronald Braunstein.

– How after studying with the likes of Karajan and Bernstein, Ronald was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and encountered the stigma and discrimination which ultimately inspired the Me2/ project.

– And the specific ways Me2/ benefits its players and enlightens audiences – not in any kind of preachy way but simply by virtue of its existence and musical excellence.

One thing to clarify before we dive in – you might associate the phrase “Me Too” with the recent #MeToo movement about sexual assault but Me2/Orchestra was founded in 2011 and there’s no connection between the two. The name came from Ronald’s experience sharing his mental health diagnosis with other musicians and being surprised to hear them say “me too”.

Mental health is something we should talk more openly and honestly about. We are glad to have the opportunity to showcase this wonderful project. Whether this topic is of interest to you or not, there is a ton of insight packed into this conversation and we can all learn a lot from how Me2/ approaches running an orchestra.

Watch the episode:

Links and Resources

Me2/Orchestra Online :

Orchestrating Change – Documentary Film about Me2/Orchestra :

NY Times Article – Fighting the Stigma of Mental Illness Through Music :

Al Jazeera news report on Me2/Orchestra :

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Side By Side In Music, with Caroline Whiddon