Spotlight on Benjamin and “BrainSong”

This Father’s Day, I loved meeting up with Colorado Symphony musicians and performing on my violin with them – with my dad smiling at me from the audience (along with my mom and grandparents)! This concert was partially funded by a Community Foundation Grant, and below is the blog article they posted.

Grantee Spotlight: “BrainSong” 06.16.17 by Sabine Kortals
Funded for the first time through the foundation’s Community Trust, the “BrainSong: no shushing” summer concert series – now in its third year – presents music and dance in a welcoming and interactive setting, specifically suited for families with autistic children.

“BrainSong concerts are sensory-friendly events,” says Malva Tarasewicz, whose 22-year-old son, Benjamin, is autistic. “Last year, dancers of the Boulder Ballet collaborated with Colorado Symphony musicians to present programming that encourages audience interaction. “Again this year, BrainSong is a variety program that’s not too long, that ensures gentler lighting and volume – as well as suitable programming – and that allows kids to move or lie down, or otherwise respond to and interact with the music and movement being presented.”

A project of Lafayette-based Julie Marshall, last year’s BrainSong was chronicled on Malva’s autism blog. [Of note, as a member of the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, Malva has also spearheaded the Phil’s sensory-friendly events designed for families living with autism and other disabilities.] “BrainSong is a journey through time and music that eliminates the barrier of the stage,” continues Malva, herself a violinist and author of Benjamin Breaking Barriers. “Kids are allowed to sit near the musicians, where they can feel the musical vibrations. The audience is accepting and welcoming, and there’s no ‘shushing’!”

At last year’s BrainSong, Benjamin – who plays several instruments – performed a chamber music piece with Colorado Symphony musicians, and later played a complete program with Malva, showcasing his singing, Baroque recorder, and stringed-instrument skills. “At the June 18 concert this year, Benjamin will again play the violin with musicians of the Colorado Symphony – this time, Pachelbel’s Canon,” adds Malva. “From Baroque music through modern times, the program is very interactive. Music is a language of the soul that deeply influences people, especially people with disabilities, and especially if they’re non-verbal. Music can really tap into connecting with someone.”

Indeed, Malva says she connected with Benjamin through music, long before he could speak. “The way I see it, music fulfills a basic human need,” she concludes. “In a traditional concert setting, kids have to sit still, or they disturb other concertgoers with bursts of verbalizations.  BrainSong concerts, however – and our sensory-friendly concerts with the Boulder Phil – tailor the concert setting to eliminate those barriers, and to ensure that everyone can enjoy and benefit from musical and artistic experiences. People living with autism have amazing gifts, and music helps unlock those gifts. Like Benjamin, people with autism are often role models, contributing hope and inspiration to all of us.”

To view the original blog post, go to https://www.commfound.org/blog/grantee-spotlight-“brainsong”

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