In the fall of 2018, the Symphony expanded on its mission “to share the joy of music with our community” to encompass healing through music in a collaboration with the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center Music Therapy program. This partnership includes performances by Symphony musicians at the VA hospitals and symphony musicians playing in common areas of the medical center as well as providing support during Music Therapy groups or performing bedside for veterans. Each season, ensembles of Symphony musicians perform at various locations at both VA medical centers, creating a more relaxed and low-stress environment for veterans and their families as well as for the hospital staff. Members of the VA’s Guitar Ensemble has regular access to learning about the orchestra through an invitation to attend Symphony and Pops rehearsals, where they can observe and interact with the Maestro and musicians. After attending the rehearsals and familiarizing themselves with the Miller Theater, the Guitar Ensemble has ultimately performed themselves at the Miller Theater before various Symphony Series and Pops! concerts. Throughout the season, the Symphony sends a principal string or woodwind musician to accompany the VA music therapist during Music-Assisted Group Meditation and Relaxation Therapy at the uptown VA. This program’s purpose is to assist veterans with pain, anxiety, depression, and post traumatic stress disorder. Consistent with scientific findings, many veterans report that artistic expression and encounters with music improve their mood, self-confidence, and ability to manage stress. Some have formed social relationships, spending time together outside of group times. Other patrons report a notable improvement in their self-confidence and self-worth by learning to cope with the stress and anxiety experienced during performances. Symphony musicians benefit as well by building bridges with the community in which they perform and experiences the positive impact their craft has on the veterans and hospital staff.
VA Guitar Ensemble performing at the Miller Theater before a Symphony concert
Thank You Sponsors
Bank of America
National Endowment for the Arts
Georgia Arts Council
Greater Augusta Arts Council