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By Lynn Selich               Photography by Michael Rutt

It was a beautiful fall evening as we arrived for a reception and dinner at Marche Moderne South Coast Plaza for The Foundation for Neuroscience, Stroke and Recovery’s (FSNR) “Symphonic Suites for Healing” fundraiser on Wednesday, September 26.

The intimate event netted more than $5,000 with more donation expected in support of a musical program for healing, with organizers hoping to produce a large fundraising performance in March 2014 at Segerstrom Center for the Arts featuring the works of composer and pianist Mike Garson.

Some 50 guests and FNSR supporters attended the event, which featured guest speakers Philharmonic Society of Orange County President and Artistic Director Dean Corey, FNSR Founder Christopher Duma, MD, FNSR Executive Allison Smith Conway, Co-Chair Janice Morrow, FNSR Co-Chair Andrew Patterson and Composer Mike Garson, who gave a rousing piano performance.

It was quite a fete for Yamaha, who delivered a specially designed baby grand piano to Marche Moderne for the performance.

A highlight of the evening came when Dr. Duma and Andrew Patterson gave a musical and digital presentation on how the Tango affects brain activity.

Dr. Duma, who grew up playing the piano, told me that there is a natural tie to medicine, music and the brain, and he has been testing patients to see how they react while listening to Mr. Garson’s music.  “We have found that basic loves and passions, like those we have for music or art, help to connect and stimulate certain parts of the brain,” explained Duma. “By using music as a conduit for healing, patients actually are able to do things they couldn’t do without listening to music during their treatment.”

During dinner, I also had the pleasure of talking with the guests on either side of me, one whose husband had been a brain tumor patient of Dr. Duma’s, the other a brain tumor survivor herself.  Both sang the praises of musical therapy and its healing abilities which they had experienced. I was nearly moved to tears with their brave candor, courage and sense of hope despite the odds.

As Dr. Duma put it, “Music therapy derives hope for our patients, and hope is a very powerful recovery tool.”

http://www.fnsroc.org/