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Chamber ensemble
Project
Project Type - Artistic Initiatives

Partnership with San Francisco Conservatory of Music

Exploring the intersection of music, creativity, and brain science
Northern America

Overview

The San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM), GBHI and the UCSF Memory and Aging Center joined forces in 2019 to explore the intersection of music, creativity, and brain science. Through this innovative collaboration, we work together to produce an annual series of public-facing educational programming. The programs highlight novel scientific research and core principles of music and music theory, with presenters from both institutions and exemplary musical performances. Ultimately, the programs raise awareness of innovations in brain health and music to a broad audience.

There are things we know through music we can’t know through other means. We seek to explore these questions.

David Stull
President, San Francisco Conservatory of Music
Cover image for the other side of the brain

Project Details

Starting in June 2019, the collaboration with SFCM was launched with “Unravelling Bolero: A Discussion Around the Brain Science of Creativity” at the Conservatory Concert Hall. Maestro Joseph Young, music director of the Berkeley Symphony, led a full orchestra in Maurice Ravel’s Boléro.

This was followed by “The Other Side of the Brain: Exploring Emotion and Music in Dyslexia” in February 2020. Sir Franc D’Ambrosio, the longest-running phantom in Phantom of the Opera and recently knighted by the government of Italy, serenaded the audience after an in-depth interview about his music career and having dyslexia.

The musical highlights included a classical septet of students and faculty from SFCM and an original composition by an SFCM student for voice and piano. Sir Franc D’Ambrosio, the longest-running phantom in Phantom of the Opera also knighted by the government of Italy, then serenaded the audience following an in-depth interview about his music career and having dyslexia. 

The Last Dance: Music, Improvisation & the Resilient Brain” in November 2020 was virtual during COVID-19. It was designed and led by students from SFCM, UCSF, and GBHI together with an L.A.-based pop singer, Kimberly Cole, whose father had frontotemporal dementia. Her original song was broken down through three different styles of music – Baroque, jazz, and a modern flourish paired with dance.

Programs continue to explore topics such as resilience, the social determinants of brain health, dementia awareness, and more and the interplay of music in these areas. Additional areas of collaboration are underway.

Responses from audience members: 

...The event on Tuesday was wonderful. It so beautifully brought together the topics of science, emotion, music and dyslexia. Truly memorable and something very special.

What an amazing GBHI collaborative event this evening at the Conservatory of Music!! It was absolutely and seamlessly professional, educational, and thoroughly enjoyable. You all knocked our socks off!  I can still hear the beautiful music, and feel the awesome kindness vibe from the speakers’ gentle and personally open conversation. This evening’s beautiful and loving presentation is the first thing in many days that – in the midst of the evolving new coronavirus situation – has given my mind some respite. Many thanks for inviting me.

WOW!!! This morning's presentation, The Last Dance: Music, Improvisation & the Resilient Brain, was really a very WONDERFUL collaboration!  Thank you so much & big congratulations to everyone who contributed to the project … I can't wait to watch it again, as well as share it with a growing list of people who want to view it.

This has been a hard year with a lot of pressure at work. It was such a pleasure to tune in for this presentation. It was my little relaxing oasis from an overfull schedule.

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