Oct. 21, 2021, 4–5:30 p.m. ET
NAMI Ask the Expert welcomes the Me2/Orchestra, an orchestra of people with and without mental illness working side-by-side in a supportive atmosphere. Their mission is to erase mental health stigma one concert at a time.
The Me2/Orchestra was co-founded by Ronald Braunstein and his wife Caroline Whiddon in 2011. A Juilliard graduate, Braunstein was conducting major orchestras all over the world until he disclosed his diagnosis of bipolar disorder. After being shunned by the classical musical community, he created an orchestra for people like himself.
Their concerts challenge audiences to reconsider their preconceptions about what it means to live with a mental illness. This groundbreaking orchestra is a transformative model for any organization seeking to create a stigma-free environment where people with and without mental health diagnoses can work successfully together.
The Me2/Orchestra was featured in the documentary “Orchestrating Change,” broadcast on PBS stations across the U.S. in Fall 2020. Join our discussion of this empowering model for change.
After the presentation, NAMI’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ken Duckworth will moderate a Q&A session. This session will be recorded and posted to our website one or two days after the webinar. A typed transcription of the audio will also be provided within one week of the webinar.
Read the Transcript
Ronald Braunstein is the Music Director and Co-Founder of the Me2/Orchestra. He received his musical background at the Juilliard School, Salzburg Mozarteum, Fontainbleau and the Tanglewood Music Center. After his graduation, he won the Gold Medal in the Herbert von Karajan International Conducting Competition and spent the following four years mentoring with von Karajan in Berlin. He has conducted the San Francisco Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic, Auckland Philharmonia, Israel Sinfonietta, Tokyo Symphony and Stuttgart Radio Orchestra, among others. Braunstein was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1985. This led him to launching Me2/Orchestra, the world’s only classical music organization dedicated to erasing the stigma surrounding mental illness. He currently conducts the organization’s orchestras located in Boston, Mass., and Manchester, N.H., while providing the artistic vision for all of the Me2/ orchestras, ensembles and affiliate programs.
Caroline Whiddon is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Me2/Orchestra. Whiddon previously served as the Executive Director of the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association. During her 13-year tenure, the organization nearly tripled its student enrollment, completed a successful $2.1 million capital campaign, made its Carnegie Hall debut with an innovative program featuring all-living composers, and toured internationally. Whiddon has served as the Chair of the Youth Orchestra Division of the League of American Orchestras, providing leadership in her field at the national level. She is a graduate of the Snelling Center for Government’s Vermont Leadership Institute. She received her bachelor’s degree in Performance from the Eastman School of Music, where she studied French Horn with Verne Reynolds. She was diagnosed with depression, anxiety disorder and panic attacks in her early 20s.
Carole Furr is a resident of Richmond, Vt. She is a graduate of Harvard College with a degree in physics and works as an accountant. She is an experienced French Horn player, sings alto in the Vermont Symphony Orchestra Chorus and enjoys English country dancing. She is a former treasurer and board member of NAMI Vermont. Furr is a charter member of the Me2/Orchestra, having taken part since its founding in 2011.
Margie Friedman and Barbara Multer-Wellin are both EMMY award-winning producers with years of non-fiction television experience. They have produced shows for CBS, NBC, ABC, HBO, Showtime, Lifetime, HGTV, Disney Channel and others. Their previous films have aired on PBS, including the prestigious series “Independent Lens.”
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