Award-Successful Conductor Creates Orchestra to Erase Stigma Towards Psychological Sickness

Ronald Braunstein conducts the Me2/ Orchestra in January 2022 in Boston’s Symphony Corridor (Picture credit score: Steven Senne)


Ronald Braunstein is the music director of Me2/, which is the world’s solely non-profit classical music group created for people with psychological diseases and people who help them.

Braunstein was recognized with bipolar dysfunction in 1985. He launched Me2/ due to his ardour for music and need to help others who wrestle to take care of good psychological well being. 

Beforehand, he studied at The Juilliard College, Salzburg Mozarteum, Fontainbleau, and the Tanglewood Music Middle. “I used to be capable of be taught and memorize full symphonies in a single day,” he informed CBS Information. “Music brings to my life all the pieces.”

Straight after graduating from Juilliard, he received the Gold Medal within the Herbert von Karajan Worldwide Conducting Competitors and was mentored by Karajan the next 4 years. He additionally later turned Juilliard’s music director.

He has performed the San Francisco Symphony, Berlin Philharmonic, Stuttgart Radio Orchestra, Swiss Radio Orchestra, Israel Sinfonietta, Auckland Philharmonia, Kyoto Symphony, Osaka Symphony, Tokyo Symphony, the Residentie Orchestra of The Hague, and the Oslo Philharmonic. 

Nevertheless, attributable to his bipolar dysfunction, he misplaced job alternatives. “I knew that I’d by no means get a conducting job once more,” he informed Gabe Howard, an Inside Psychological Well being Podcast host. “It wasn’t like a choice. [I just felt] that I [had] run out of choices. So I needed to create a brand new possibility, which was to make my very own orchestra made of individuals like me,” he continued.

After experiencing a long time of stigma in his skilled life due to his analysis, he determined in 2011 to create a protected, stigma-free zone for musicians dwelling with psychological well being circumstances. 

Working together with his spouse Caroline Whiddon, a classically skilled French horn participant dwelling with despair and an anxiousness dysfunction, they based the Me2/Orchestra in Burlington, Vermont.

There are not any auditions to affix any of the Me2/ ensembles and there’s no participation price. It’s open to these with or with out psychological well being circumstances and it doesn’t require anybody to share diagnoses. All ages and skill ranges are inspired to participate. 

The New England-based orchestra has since expanded to incorporate ensembles across the nation that every one goal to fight the stigma round psychological sickness. “We aren’t making an attempt to be the best orchestra on the planet,” Braunstein mentioned. “We’re simply making an attempt to create a neighborhood.”

“Taking part in music is so highly effective if you end up all joined by a standard mission,” Josh Santana, a Me2/Orchestra member, informed CBS Information. 


(Picture courtesy: Me2//Fb)


To start with, the primary few individuals who joined simply got here in to inform their tales, and step by step over just a few weeks, a stage of belief had developed. Slowly, the group grew and it turned a protected place to be and play music collectively.

Earlier than the onset of COVID-19 which made it tough to carry dwell performances, the Me2/Orchestra placed on three to 4 concert events yearly at conventional live performance venues in addition to correctional and rehabilitation amenities to succeed in these dwelling with psychological well being challenges, in response to The Mighty.

The performances create alternatives for Me2/ to share with and educate the general public concerning the realities of dwelling with psychological diseases and to help these looking for remedy. 

When requested concerning the origin of the group’s title, Braunstein defined that the identify “outdated the ladies’s motion [#MeToo] by about 10 years.” Many individuals got here to Me2/ considering they have been a #MeToo group and Braunstein encountered many on the lookout for the ladies’s motion. 

“We bought into actual conversations about psychological sickness with a couple of quarter of them,” Braunstein mentioned. “And we’ve saved in contact with them, so, it’s finest to maintain your id after which discover intersections with individuals.”

For extra data or if excited about becoming a member of Me2/, click on right here.

The podcast episode between Braunstein and Gabe Howard on the Inside Psychological Well being Podcast will be listened to beneath.




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