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“The Art and Science of Medical Music” Performance and Discussion

Southern Vermont College (SVC) will host a presentation of music and discussion entitled “The Art and Science of Medical Music” by author/musician Andrew Schulman, Dr. Marvin McMillen, MD, and guest Eric Despard, as well as a showing of the documentary, “Andrew & Wendy,” on Wednesday, March 29, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Oldcastle Theatre. The film and talk are free and open to the public.

The 30-minute biographical film, produced by Academy Award nominee Josh Aronson (2014), tells the story of a New York Upper West Side couple at a crisis point. Andrew, who is in a coma, is not responding to anything. Knowing his deep connection to music, his wife, Wendy, decides to play Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion” on his ipod for him, which in turn brings him back, a miraculous outcome even acknowledged by his doctors.

This story analyzes the mysterious healing power of music and what inspired Schulman and McMillen to found the Medical Musician’s Initiative, with Schulman bringing music to other desperately ill patients. SVC’s Music Director and Assistant Professor Despard, a classical guitarist and Yale School of Music graduate, is the first person to be trained by Schulman and McMillen. Despard will participate in the panel and also perform a Prelude by Bach on the guitar.

Schulman is the former resident musician in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Mount Sinai Beth Israel hospital in New York City and is the current medical musician at New York University’s Langone Medical Center and Berkshire Medical Center. He is the founder and artistic director of the Abaca String Band, which has performed throughout the United States. He is also a solo guitarist and has appeared at Carnegie Hall, The Royal Albert Hall in London, the White House, and the Improv Comedy Club. Schulman has also written “Waking the Spirit: A Musician’s Journey Healing Body, Mind, and Soul.” The Bennington Bookshop will have books available at the event to be signed.

Dr. McMillen is a trauma surgeon at Berkshire Medical Center and formerly of Beth Israel where Schulman was a patient. As co-founder with Schulman of the Medical Musician’s Initiative and a fervent proponent that music can help heal, McMillen wrote the forward in Schulman’s book.

This presentation is sponsored by SVC, including the Division of Humanities and Division of Nursing. For more information, contact Professor Despard at or 802-681-2889.

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