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Concert for the End of Time: Dr. Summa-Chadwick Talks Music Therapy and PTSD

Dr. Martha Summa-Chadwick nerds out about the power music has to affect the quality of life. She is the Executive Director of Music Therapy Gateway in Communications, Inc. She joins us today to talk about how music is an ancient language that can help patients suffering from autism, PTSD, and Parkinson's disease. MTGIC has a free concert, Quartet for the End of Time, coming up November 18th, and Dr. Summa-Chadwick is also telling us composer Oliver Messiaen had a neurological disorder, synesthesia, and composed the quartet while being held captive as a POW during World War II.

From a press release about the concert:

Several leading regional musical organizations will collaborate in a unique chamber music event on November 18, 2016 beginning at 7:00 pm in the Roland Hayes Concert Hall on the campus of UTC. Musicians from the UTC Department of Performing Arts, Huntsville Symphony Orchestra (HSO), and the non-profit organization Music Therapy Gateway In Communications (MTGIC) will combine their talents in a concert designed to educate and entertain the audience on the positive therapeutic outcomes for motor, speech, and cognitive challenges utilizing music as a direct conduit into the brain. A pre-concert lecture is scheduled at 7:00 pm, followed by a 7:30 concert featuring Olivier Messiaen’s remarkable composition, Quartet for the End of Time. The event is supported by a grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission to MTGIC as part of their 2016-17 Arts Build Communities grant cycle.

Pianist and MTGIC Executive Director Dr. Martha Summa-Chadwick will be joined by HSO concertmaster Mark Reneau on violin, UTC professor Dr. Nikolasa Tejero on clarinet, and Heather Anderson on cello for the performance. The year 2016 marks the 75th anniversary of the premiere of Messiaen’s Quartet, which was composed and premiered in a prisoner-of-war camp during WWII. The unusual scoring of piano, cello, violin, and clarinet was a result of the limitations of instruments and musicians that could be found at the POW camp. It will be the featured work following a brief demonstration of the more public facade of musical entertainment in war-torn Europe during 1941, including Strauss waltzes and Weill cabaret songs.

The Quartet’s structural design includes qualities that are musical, physiological, and also mystical based on Messiaen’s personal belief structure. Messiaen had synesthesia, a condition affecting 1 in 2000 people that involves a fundamental jumbling of the sensory system; he could see sound and hear color. Compositional techniques in the Quartet are influenced by this rare physiological ability to transcribe sound into colors, and also his intense faith in the Catholic Church. The reflection on “time” illuminated in the Quartet allowed Messiaen to create the fundamental connection that would link all of his beliefs; on hearing the work, the concert audience will understand different approaches of how music can influence humanity.

This event is free of charge and open to the public. Organizations interested in learning more about biomedical music via MTGIC’s free concert or lecture series can contact Martha Summa-Chadwick at www.mtgic.org or at her personal website, www.marthasumma.com.