MANCHESTER, NH – Have you been looking for a unique community ensemble where you can make music with people who show up to support each other? If so, the new Me2/Manchester Orchestra would love to hear from you.
Me2/ (“me, too”) is the world’s only classical music organization created for individuals living with mental illness and the people who support them. Rehearsals take place on Wednesday evenings from 7 – 8:30 p.m. at the Manchester Community Music School. There are no auditions and no fees required to participate. People of all ages and ability levels are encouraged to play. To join the orchestra, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org to express interest.
The mission of Me2/ is to erase the stigma surrounding mental illness through supportive classical music ensembles and inspiring performances. Nearly 50% of Me2/’s musicians have a diagnosis such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, addiction, borderline personality disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder. Other musicians do not have a diagnosis themselves, but they join Me2/ to use their musical skills to further the organization’s social mission.
The orchestra will perform at both conventional venues, such as recital halls, and less conventional locations, including hospitals, recovery centers, and prisons. The group’s first performance took place at Manchester’s 1269 Café in December, where the ensemble performed for people seeking shelter from the streets.
The orchestra in Manchester is led by Music Director and Conductor Ronald Braunstein. Braunstein won the Gold Medal in the Karajan International Conducting Competition in 1979 and has conducted orchestras all over the world, in addition to teaching at the Juilliard School and the Mannes School of Music. He was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder more than thirty years ago. In 2011 he realized that he was uniquely qualified to create a safe space for himself and other musicians who struggle to maintain good mental health.
The Manchester-based ensemble joins a network of orchestras already established by Me2/. The organization was founded in Burlington, Vermont, in 2011, where the orchestra now has 50 members. A few years later the organization expanded to Boston, where the orchestra currently consists of 60 musicians. There is also a robust Flute Choir program in Boston, and a recently launched Chorus. The goal of the organization’s leadership is to empower as many musicians as possible to make music with a positive mental health mission.
“We hope more musicians will join the orchestra in Manchester this spring,” said Me2/’s Executive Director, Caroline Whiddon. “The more people making music and fighting the stigma against mental health diagnoses, the better!”
For more information, please contact Me2/ at (802) 238-8369 or email@example.com.