Hospicare and Area Musicians Produce Healing Music

ITHACA, NY — Inspired by those lines from Emily Dickinson, area musician and teacher Jayne Demakos has led students and faculty from the Ithaca College School of Music as well as Ithaca-area musicians to create a CD for Hospicare and Palliative Services for Tompkins County. Entitled “Beauty Crowds Me,” the CD will offer the therapeutic power of music to Hospicare patients and their families. The recently released CD is available for purchase online and at several local venues. All proceeds will benefit Hospicare.“The tradition of music at the bedside is an ancient one,” said cellist Elizabeth Simkin, associate professor of music performance, who performs on the CD. “Music offers a deep sense of communication that’s not verbal. The vibrations of the notes, the tempo, the rhythms and the dynamics all have a profound effect on human physiology.”Studies have shown that music can stabilize heart rate, increase oxygen saturation and lessen the awareness of pain. Neurologist Oliver Sacks, whose book “Awakenings” inspired the Oscar-nominated film by the same name, has shown that even comatose patients can respond to music in healing and therapeutic ways.“Music connects to a different part of the brain than speech does,” said double bassist and composer Nicholas Walker, assistant professor of music performance, who also performs on the CD. “If the music on this CD can redefine beauty for people who are at a place where beauty may be hard to find, I’m glad to be a part of that.”Three years in the making, “Beauty Crowds Me” includes performances by harpists Jayne Demakos and Evangeline Ray; the Ithaca College Women’s Chorale directed by Janet Galván; Simkin, Walker and School of Music flutist Wendy Herbener Meyne; Uganda-born singer and multi-instrumentalist Samite; and Hospicare’s vocal ensemble Schola Cantorum. Alex Perialas, director of the Sound Recording Technology Program in the music school and owner of Pyramid Sound, was the sound engineer, with assistance from students in the School of Music’s sound recording technology program. Brian Dozoretz, manager of recording services, was the lead engineer.“We have selected 12 musical pieces from the vast ocean of possibilities to offer in ‘Beauty Crowds Me,’” said Demakos, Hospicare’s music program coordinator. “This collection is the fruit of a collaboration between Hospicare, the Ithaca College School of Music and Pyramid Sound.”In addition, “Beauty Crowds Me” received support from the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute, a part of the Division of Interdisciplinary and International Studies, and the Linden Center for Creativity and Aging.“Beauty Crowds Me” is available free for Hospicare patients.

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