High Notes Avante Social at Richmond Hill’s Pearl Pianos
An engaging evening of music & stories of mental health recovery
By Ingrid Taheri, HIGH NOTES AVANTE PRODUCTIONS INC.
A psychotherapist, speaker and classically trained pianist, Paul Radkowski can tell a recovery story or two—whether his own, his clients’ or that of fellow musicians or well-known composers.
Paul, who also is CEO of LifeRecoveryProgram.com, will present A Musical Journey of Hope at the first ever HIGH NOTES AVANTE SOCIAL at Pearl Piano Studio on 15 Sims Crescent in Richmond Hill, 7:30 pm on September 14. Proceeds benefit High Notes Avante and the registered charity’s efforts to use music to raise the image of mental illness.
“Events like the HIGH NOTES AVANTE SOCIAL inspire and connect people,” says Paul. “We are all affected by these issues and it is OK to say we have them. We need to be more accepting of ourselves and others to begin the journey of healing and hope. By talking, listening and sharing we change the culture.”
Paul created his internationally awarded LifeRecoveryProgram.com, to make mental health resources accessible to everyone. He says “24/7 issues require 24/7 solutions no matter where you are.” Having worked in various counselling roles in remote areas of northern Canada, including the Northwest Territories, he says “The despair was abundant. I was tired of seeing people bleed and die in the service gaps. So… when I came back to southern Ontario we essentially took what worked frontline and put it online.”
Paul’s personal mental health story—as that of many other Canadians—started when he was a socially awkward teenager. “Fifty per cent of mental health issues occur before the age of 14 and 75 per cent occur before we reach age 24. I developed anxiety, and then depression in my early ‘20s,“ he says. “Canadians typically wait between six to 23 years before seeking help—if they seek help at all. Stigma was alive and well back then too.” So quietly, he sought counselling and credits the experience with becoming a better listener in his professional life. “I know how it feels to be raw, exposed and vulnerable. I understand the fear of being judged and wondering if there is something wrong with you… how you hurt inside and how hard it is to overcome the stigma and seek help.”
Journaling and playing the piano gave Paul an outlet to help overcome and accept his own struggles. “Through music I could express my feelings of despair, rage and pain and convert them into passion and conviction,” he says. “The spark and energy helped me transform my feelings and express myself with beautiful music.”
Paul became fascinated by the lives and recovery stories of the composers he played. He was particularly intrigued by Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff who dedicated his second piano concerto—one of the most renowned works in the literature—to his therapist Nikolai Dahl. “The fact that Rachmaninoff could recover from depression brought on by the fiasco of the premier of his first symphony and produce music with such passion, poignancy, pain urgency, triumph and hope–encouraged me to keep going as a human being,” he says. Paul moved on to study music therapy and to deepen his understanding of the intrinsic power of music to heal, as well as neuroscience and biology.
The interactive evening at Pearls Pianos includes Paul playing the piano and sharing recovery stories of other composers including Ravel, Gershwin, Beethoven and Tchaikowsky. Vocalist and awarded psychotherapist Monique Peats joins him for a Judy Garland number. Rosa Hei, runner up of the North York Music Festival’s High Notes Gala class, is also performing.
“We are excited to host this important event in support of our community,” says Pearl Chen, manager of Pearl Pianos—an accomplished pianist herself and daughter of Wayne Chen, one of Toronto’s most respected piano technicians. “Mental health affects me every day and nobody I know is immune. We are donating a portion of our September sales to help High Notes Avante continue their valuable work.”
THIS FREE EVENT REQUIRES A TICKET AS SPACE IS LIMITED. PLEASE VISIT EVENTBRITE.ca. to register. A donation is encouraged. For more information visit highnotesavante.ca, liferecoveryprogram.com or http://www.pianokeyboard.com/