The healing powers of Harmony

Guest blogger: Carmel O’Donovan, on-air host of KMFA’s Sunday Matinee

I love my role as host of Sunday Matinee on KMFA, and hated having to be away from the station when I was injured in a car accident at the start of this year. That said, listening to the wonderful mix of classical music, available day and night at 89.5 as I recovered, first in hospital and then at home, is a testament to the oft-quoted adages about the power of music to heal. I think that the psychiatrist Oliver Sacks summed it up beautifully in his book Awakenings when he said, “The power of music to integrate and cure. . . is quite fundamental. It is the profoundest nonchemical medication.”

And so it was that just a week ago I witnessed another aspect of the multiple healing and empowering aspects of music. I attended a fund-raising concert for an inspirational, Austin-based non-profit organization called The Austin Harmony Project. Their mission statement proudly announces that they are “enriching the lives of the developmentally disabled through the power of art music and community.” Based in South Austin, Harmony conducts art & music sessions five days a week for developmentally disabled adults. They focus on creative self-expression, which is designed to help participants overcome physical, emotional, intellectual, and social challenges associated with their disabilities. Participants flourish in Harmony’s programs where they are valued, cared for, and given the freedom to express themselves.

The fund-raising concert mixed the voices and talents of the young people who attend Harmony with the musical talents of the executive director Tressie Seegers and her fellow musicians and friends, local musicians Tina Wilkins and Greg Whitfield. The mix of music was eclectic and entertaining, and the joy and enthusiasm evidenced by the Harmony participants raised the spirits of all who were present.

The concerts take place at regular intervals and you can find out more by visiting the website

Carmel O’Donovan is a part-time announcer on KMFA 89.5

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