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PRIMER | How An Opera Singer Is Breaking Down The Barricades Around Suicide

By John Terauds on September 10, 2018

Breaking down barricades around mental illness with song on September 15
In honour of World Suicide Prevention Day on September 15, musicians across Canada are raising awareness with a continuous webcast of concerts inspired by around mental illness.

Edmonton-based opera singer Beth Turnbull is no stranger to drama on stage, but the emotions turned unexpectedly personal when her then-husband of 27 years, Chris, died by suicide three years ago.

Once she recovered from the shock, she turned her mourning into something constructive. She organized a concert to raise awareness of the mental issues that can lead to someone taking their own life.

With Turnbull leading the way, this musical consciousness-raising has turned into an annual affair that, on September 15, will include 13 concerts in cities across the country, including Toronto.

She did, after all, get her Opera diploma at the University of Toronto.

So, on Saturday, an impressive cast of musicians are assembling at the Faculty of Music’s Walter Hall for a free concert titled Mysterious Barricades, starting at 2 pm.

The singers include Russell Braun, Monica Whicher, Nathalie Paulin, Norinne Burgess and a chorus of U of T students. The pianists will be Stephen Philcox and John Greer. Canadian Opera Company concertmaster Marie Bérard is also going to perform.

The concert will be live-streamed at mysteriousbarricades.org, for those who can’t make it in person. The website will stream the music from each city, making it an all-day event.

Turnbull is eloquent on the power of music to reach deeply into our hearts.

“I believe that the musical vibrations we make, like a ripple of energy across water, reverberate in our entire body. I believe we virtually resonate on a cellular level,” she writes on the website. “And this energetic vibration, shared by everyone simultaneously, connects us in a way that is beautiful, mysterious and healing. We experience something together that is much greater than the sum of all of its parts.”

Turnbull’s hope is that this experience can help make us aware that more needs to be done to help people in emotional distress.

Suicide is something that we can prevent, and there are many, many ways to successfully deal with mental illness.

If fine music can help move this process forward, bring it on.

Or, as Turnbull puts it, “Concert day is always emotional for sure. I see and hear so many of my friends across the country sharing their incredible artistry. There is so much beautiful music and so many powerful performances. There are stories shared, messages of hope, and resources and support for people who are struggling and their families, and for survivors.”

 

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, the founder of Musical Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds
John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, the founder of Musical Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
John Terauds
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Ludwig Van Toronto

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