ASO kicks off Autism Awareness month at Nordstrom in the Westfield Annapolis Mall with Evan Bertrand and ASO musicians Nick Currie, Christian Tremblay, Sarah Hart, and Todd Thiel.

The ASO's newest outreach initiative is Music Heals, a health and wellness program in which the ASO partners with local community organizations to bring the restorative power of live music to healthcare facilities, schools, and other public settings. Through transformative live musical experiences, Music Heals aims to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals of all ages. Through this program the ASO has created partnerships with Autism Speaks, Hospice of the Chesapeake and Wellness House of Annapolis.

ASO’s Music Heals program has presented a Music Therapy seminar, entitled Creating a Sanctuary, in collaboration with the Wellness House of Annapolis’ Keys to Wellness. Here the ASO presented certified Music Therapist, Carolyn Sonnen, who worked with Wellness House members to experience different kinds of music through listening, singing, and moving, helping them determine what kinds of music can bring them peace, inspiration, and the support they need.

According to the American Cancer Society, music programs used with conventional cancer treatment can help reduce pain and relieve chemotherapy-related symptoms. It may relieve stress and help provide an overall sense of well-being. For the families of these patients, musical experiences can help decrease anxiety, aid in expressing emotions, and help to improve communication.

Teece Nowell, Program Director at Wellness House, is excited about the collaboration with the ASO: "Wellness House is grateful to have the support of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra. Our partnership brings a new dimension to the music programs offered at Wellness House and allows our members the opportunity to expand their music horizons. We are also excited to expand our Wellness House member’s “toolbox” as they journey through the cancer experience."

For ASO Executive Director, Katharene Snavely, the Music Heals program and partnership with Wellness House is a natural fit. “There is growing recognition of the physical and emotional healing that classical music can bring to patients, their families and caregivers, and the ASO is well-equipped to bring the gift of classical music to those who could benefit from it the most. This is just one more way that the ASO can strengthen its commitment to the community and demonstrate our recognition that what we do off the stage in the community is just as important what we do in the performance hall.”

The ASO will be working with other community healthcare partners, as well as schools, to aid children with learning differences, providing appropriate and tailored live musical experiences. Additionally, the ASO has established a ticket bank in which tickets to ASO performances are provided for patients and caregivers at partner organizations.

The ASO is committed to serving its community through its broad and diverse education and outreach programming, demonstrating their belief that music is for everyone, regardless of age, background or musical talent – that everyone benefits from music.

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The Annapolis Symphony Orchestra features 70 professional musicians who perform a variety of symphonic music for audiences of all ages. Additionally, the organization provides educational programs through its partnerships with local schools, as well as various other community outreach efforts. The ASO’s vision is to be the best regional orchestra in the country, recognized as a jewel in the Washington/Baltimore area.

Wellness House of Annapolis is a nonprofit organization offering free programs and services to cancer patients, survivors, their families, and caregivers. Anne Arundel County has the highest incidence of cancer in Maryland and, in response, delivers outstanding medical care for cancer patients. Wellness House fills the gap, providing programs and services that are not available elsewhere. The only facility of its kind in Anne Arundel County, Wellness House is a comfortable gathering place in a nonclinical, home-like setting where cancer patients and their support team can receive support, education, and services to help them recover their health and well-being.

Carolyn Sonnen is a Board-Certified Music Therapist and musician with over 30 years of experience as a clinical music therapist. She uses both active and receptive methods to support individuals and groups in personal growth, education, and wellness.