Musings on Madness
Is Lunacy Simply Brilliance by Another Name?
It is a cold morning in February and Canadian conductor, Boris Brott, while at home in Hamilton, Ontario, is preparing for yet another jam- packed day but at this moment he isn’t thinking about orchestras or composers or the power of teamwork. He is in fact considering what it means to be mad, truly mad.
“I mean the word madness or lunacy are just used for hyperbolism really, but it is a fair question that I think needs to be answered. What is mental illness exactly and why do we find the need to label it as an illness? A better question might be, why we have to label it at all,” asks Brott.
Discussions of mental illness and medical labels are far from the everyday for this world class conductor and much sought after motivational speaker, but Brott feels compelled to discuss it and so has agreed to participate in the second annual High Notes for Mental Health concert, a night of music and spoken word that aims to raise awareness and help to de-stigmatize mental health challenges. “Since childhood, my life has been immersed in music and so many of the world’s most accomplished composers and interpreters have faced a diagnosis of mental illness so to me music is the ideal lens through which we can study the idea of creativity and its connection to madness and so I am honoured to speak at the High Notes concert,” Brott explains and continues:
“In my mind, normality is a continuum and I am surrounded everyday by people who are not ‘normal.’ They are brilliant, talented, sensitive and gifted and by all accounts not normal. Some of these individuals I know have struggled because of their sensitivities but without the absence of normal would we have any of the great artistic masterpieces or scientific discoveries the world enjoys today? Creativity and invention require an unusual brain, require an individual to see beyond what most people can envision. I find the topic fascinating and in my mind, removing the stigma around mental illness starts there – by redefining it and certainly by renaming it.”
“We are absolutely thrilled that Boris has agreed to participate in our High Notes for Mental Health concert on May 2nd and I am certain his viewpoint will be illuminating and absolutely open our minds to another and most interesting perspective on mental health and well-being,” says Ingrid Taheri, Artistic and Executive Director of High Notes Avante Productions Inc.
Taheri was inspired to launch the High Notes concert as a way to raise awareness and de-stigmatize mental illness when a member of her own family suddenly faced their own mental health crisis. “One in five Canadians will experience mental health challenges in their lifetime and almost everyone has someone in their life who has been touched by this,” she says. “We need to remove the shame that surrounds a mental illness diagnosis so that more people reach out for help when they need it. Help is there – they just have to ask for it and removing the stigma will go a long way in encouraging more people to seek out support,” Taheri adds.
The second annual High Notes for Mental Health concert takes place at the Flato Markham Theatre on Saturday, May 2, 2015. It will be an evening of music, hope and inspiration and will feature a stellar line-up of musical and spoken word artists, including Royal Canadian Air Farce veteran, Luba Goy as host, acclaimed tenor, Richard Margison and his daughter Lauren Margison, the St. Michael’s Choir School, Canadian accordion champion, Michael Bridge, violist Alex McLeod, Unionville High School student Charissa Vandikas, Dr Rustom Sethna, Chief Psychiatrist of the Markham-Stouffville Hospital and Orlando Da Silva, head of the Ontario Bar Association and mental health advocate and of course Canadian conductor and motivational speaker, Boris Brott.
Assistant & Executive Director,
High Notes Avante Productions Inc.