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Opera Singer to Perform at Ford Center; Host Panel of Experts on Music, Health, Neuroscience

Renée Fleming, a world-renowned opera singer, will host a panel of experts on music and how it affects the brain and then hold a recital at the Ford Center. Photo via the Gertrude Ford Center for the Performing Arts

In her role as Artistic Advisor at Large to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the world-renowned soprano Renée Fleming will host a panel of regional experts Sunday to explore the intersection of music, health, and neuroscience.

The discussion will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Gertrude Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

The National Institutes of Health’s Sound Health initiative, in association with the National Endowment for the Arts, Fleming has given more than 20 presentations on music and the brain in the United States and Canada. In collaboration with Dr. Jean Gispen, the Ford Center has gathered therapists and educators to present their experience with how music affects the brains of children, Alzheimer’s patients and those with autism.

The event is free and open to the public.

Panelists include:

  • Dr. Jon Fessenden,Assistant Professor of Music Therapy, Mississippi University for Women, “Music Therapy and Autism: From Neurological Understanding to Musical Flourishing.”
  • Dr. Kristen Paris, Experimental Social Psychology, Memory Makers Board,“The Positive Impact of Music on Alzheimer’s Patients.”
  • Dr. Elizabeth Hearn, Assistant Professor of Choral Music, University of Mississippi, “Why Music Matters: Building Bodies, Brains, and Relationships through Music in Childhood.”
  • Dr. Jean Gispen, UM Staff Physician, Panel Advisor

On Monday, Fleming will perform at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Ford Center with Robert Ainsley on piano.

Fleming has performed in the world’s greatest opera houses and concert halls. Honored with four Grammy awards and the US National Medal of Arts, she has sung for momentous occasions from the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony to the Diamond Jubilee for Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.

In 2014, she became the first classical artist ever to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the Super Bowl.

Fleming has starred in and hosted an array of television broadcasts, including The Met: Live in HD and Live from Lincoln Center.

Her voice is featured on the soundtracks of Best Picture Oscar winners The Shape of Water and The Lord of the Rings.

Her new album, Voice of Nature: The Anthropocene, will be released by Decca in October.

In 2020, she launched Music and Mind LIVE, a weekly web series exploring the intersection of music and arts with human health and the brain, amassing more than 650,000 views, from 70 countries.

Tickets for Fleming’s performance can be purchased online on the Ford Center website.

Staff report

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