press release:

Lincoln center presentation human genome, stress and creative musical expression

Featured at Lincoln Center
-Live Performance and Keynote Presentation-

On October 30, 2009, Barry Bittman, MD, CEO of the Yamaha Music & Wellness Institute performed the keynote address at Lincoln Center’s Music & the Brain symposium presented by the Cleveland Clinic Arts and Medicine Institute.   With integrated live performances by prodigious composer/pianist Jarrod Radnich and world-renowned soprano, Patti Cohenour, Bittman presented his research on stress and the human genome in the context of creative musical expression to demonstrate the phenomenal impact of disclosure on the healing process.

“In ancient times music and medicine were integrally related,” noted Bittman.

“Through this unique symposium and the collaborative initiatives of the Cleveland Clinic, guest faculty and artists, a resurgence of interest in music as a clinical tool in health care is setting the stage for the utilization of integrative expressive strategies that can enable people to maximize quality of life despite extraordinary health challenges.”

Dr.Bittman’s keynote theme was exemplified by Radnich’s life and his original musical score, Macaw (co-arranged with Craig Knudsen), that reflects a life-threatening struggle the young musician faced over the course of several years.   Bittman, who also serves as Meadville Medical Center’s Chief Innovations Officer, said, “Amidst phenomenal challenges and numerous hospitalizations, Jarrod’s remarkable musicianship and sense of creative musical expression served as both a survival tool and a reason for living.   When I heard his musical score, I was moved to tears and immediately set forth to develop a heart-felt theme that captured the essence of what seemed so perfectly disclosed— both consciously and unconsciously.

As a neurologist, I’ve learned a great deal about the power of the human spirit from Jarrod.

As a scientist, I now more fully understand the importance of uncovering the mechanisms that enable creative musical expression to serve as a survival strategy.

As a musician, I have a far greater appreciation for the ultimate value of personal disclosure as a healing tool for each of us.”

Bittman’s research, as summarized in his keynote, presented psychosocial, biological and genomic evidence substantiating the impact of active music participation as a stress-reduction strategy even for people who do not consider themselves musical .

With a focus on altering stress biology at the DNA level with the Yamaha Clavinova Connection, he reviewed key insights pertaining to individualized genomic stress-induction signatures —specific gene responses that reflect the uniqueness of each person.

“Frankly we were surprised not only by the distinctly individualized nature of the human stress response, but also by the positive impact playing a musical instrument had on the molecular level,”added Bittman.

Rick Young, Senior Vice-President of Yamaha Corporation of America said, “This fascinating program clearly showcased Yamaha Music & Wellness Institute’s commitment to both research and education.   Dr. Bittman’s innovative presentation on stress and the human genome evolved into a captivating discussion of the value of creative musical expression.

I was particularly pleased to hear Bittman’s keynote and Jarrod Radnich’s inspirational music performed with vocalist, Patti Cohenour (who played the original Christine in the Broadway Musical, Phantom of the Opera ), lead to a standing ovation.”

When asked about this important event, Karl T. Bruhn, Yamaha Music & Wellness Institute Board Chairman, commented, “we’re finally beginning to discover scientific support for what we’ve been aware of all along.

From a personal perspective, I will never forget how playing a wind instrument helped me recover from childhood asthma at a time many years ago when treatment options were practically non-existent.   The importance of sharing our Music & Wellness Institute’s ground-breaking research should not be underestimated.”

Dr.Bittman, reflecting upon music surviving the test of time, said, “the ubiquitous nature of music across multiple cultures warrants ongoing study from multiple perspectives.   I’m honored to state that the future of music-making rests in part on the breakthroughs we’re experiencing at the Yamaha Music & Wellness Institute.

It’s also important to realize that while scientific research at the molecular level is finally revealing many of the secrets of how we function, the unique integration of science and the actual musical experience offers a moving realization that extends beyond words.

he unforgettable experience of Radnich and Cohenour performing Love in Flight at Lincoln Center, left me mesmerized and certain that the DNA in every one of my cells was dancing!”

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The program, featuring leading international researchers and performers, was organized by neurologists Kamal Chemali, MD and Neil Cherian, MD of the Cleveland Clinic Arts and Medicine Institute.   Additional Cleveland Clinic faculty included Michael Benninger, MD, Chair, Head and Neck Institute; Iva Fattorini, MD, ExecutiveDirector, Cleveland Clinic Arts and Medicine Institute; Damir Janigro, PhD, Director Cerebrovascular Research, Cleveland Clinic Lerner Institute and Michael Roizen, MD, Chief Officer, Wellness Institute.   Guest faculty included Vera Brandes, Director, Research Program Music Medicine, Paracelsus Medical University, Austria; Shannon de I’Etolle, PhD, MT-BC, Associate Professor Music Therapy, University of Miami Frost School of Music; Professor Hans Christian Jabusch, MD, Institute of Musicians’ Medicine, University of Music Carl Maria von Weber, Germany; and Mark Tramo, MD, PhD, Director, Institute for Music & Brain Science, Harvard Medical School.  Guest artists included Julie Albers – cellist, NY; Prisca Benoit -pianist, Paris; Diana Cohen – violinist, Cleveland Heights; Yura Lee -violinist, Boston and Michael Wolff – pianist/composer, NY.

The Yamaha Music and Wellness Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to interdisciplinary development, scientific investigation, professional training and clinical amalgamation of active music participation strategies with integrative evidence-based medical insights for the purpose of enhancing quality of life for individuals of all ages regardless of race, ethnicity or disability.

For more information,contact: Barry Bittman, MD 18201 Conneaut Lake Road Meadville, PA 16335, 814-333-5061, bbittman@mmchs.org

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