Sometimes a concert isn’t about the music. The pairing of Cascadia Behavorial Healthcare and Fear No Music to present “An Evening Celebrating Composers with Mental Illness” was a great example of such a concert. It was an evening intertwined with delightful music history and a stand against the stigma still surrounding mental illness. Diving into the stories and struggles of these composers and then hearing the creative output from these great minds made the concert at once more lush and more intimate.
However, a concert with Fear No Music is of course about the music! You can’t hear such a great ensemble and not comment on the performance. I wouldn’t call it a polished show, but that wasn’t really the point. The group certainly did their research and programmed an insightful concert. Each piece seemed to build in tension until the end featuring Beethoven’s ambitious, for a man who was mostly deaf at the time, Grosse Fuge. From Charles Ives’ very literal and perhaps overly masculine “Argument” from his second string quartet, to Schumann’s active and dramatic, yet buoyant work, to Tchaikovsky’s tense and breath-pausing writing – we were privy to the struggle of the composers dealing with mental illness, but also to the creativity, innovation, and expressivity of each of them. In a time where there were no diagnoses for these great men, they found a way to share their experience.
I love that Fear No Music does shows like these. I think this is what modern classical music should look like. An intimate and laid back environment with informal, but informative discussion of the composers all in the name of a good cause. It is the marriage of culture and conscience that allows us to actively engage while still enjoying our lives. I hope to see more couplings like this, and this particular coupling again next year, perhaps with living composers! It was a lovely, laid back and conversational night.