March 11, 2013

The Annapolis Symphony Orchestra (ASO) recently announced its newest community outreach initiative, Music Heals, and now, is thrilled to showcase the program to the public through a special event in partnership with the non-profit organization Autism Speaks and Nordstrom in the Westfield Annapolis Mall.  On Thursday, March 28th at 6 PM, 20 year old Annapolis resident, Evan Bertrand, who was diagnosed with autism at a very young age, will demonstrate his musical talent by performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 12 in A Major with a quartet of principal string members of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra.  The performance at Nordstrom is free-of-charge and open to the general public.

Music Heals is a health and wellness program through which the ASO partners with local health professionals and community organizations, such as Wellness House and Hospice of the Chesapeake, to use the transformative power of music to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals of all ages. The ASO has engaged the services of certified Music Therapist Carolyn Sonnen to develop this innovative program.

It was Sonnen, who has long been Evan Bertrand’s music therapist, and Evan’s mother, Andrea Bertrand, who recognized not only Evan’s love of music and incredible talent on the piano, but also the way music provided a means for Evan to communicate with the outside world, a common challenge for someone with autism. Together, Sonnen and Bertrand spent countless hours seeking opportunities to develop Evan’s gift of music until eventually, they landed at the Peabody Preparatory of the Peabody Institute. Through collaboration with the Peabody Institute, Evan was able to not only further develop his music skills but also enjoy the many “healing” benefits of music as well. “Today, Evan continues his pursuit of musical excellence, and it’s so rewarding to see him performing in front of a public audience,” comments Sonnen. “We know that music can be an incredibly valuable tool for people with autism. For Evan it has been a transformative force in his life”.

 “This special musical event at Nordstrom comes just before the start of April as National Autism Awareness Month,” states ASO Executive Director Katharene Snavely. “Most of our efforts through our Music Heals program will take place behind-the-scenes. We’re excited to have the opportunity to publicly showcase the program through this unique event and at the same time showcase Evan’s talent while bringing added exposure to April as Autism Awareness Month.”

To commemorate World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, 2013, Autism Awareness Month throughout April, and raise autism awareness, Autism Speaks’ global Light It Up Blue ™ initiative invites landmarks and buildings to turn their lights blue. Businesses, restaurants, schools, places of worship can all participate and help shine a bright light on autism. Throughout the month of April, local communities organize autism awareness activities, events and fundraisers.  To get involved, visit

Nordstrom at Westfield Mall has long been a supporter of Evan Bertrand’s music talent and Autism Awareness.  Nordstrom will continue to show its community support for Autism Awareness by lighting up the Annapolis store blue from March 28th thru April 2nd.

“Commitment to community” continues to be a priority for the ASO. The ASO not only provides outstanding symphonic performances on the stage but also serves as an educational resource in the community and now, has expanded its efforts into the health and wellness arenas. “Our orchestra has made tremendous strides since its founding in 1962,” remarks Snavely. “We have been providing educational development programs for adults, students and young children for decades. And with the leadership of a Board of Trustees dedicated to expanding our community outreach efforts, and the financial support of our business partners and major donors, development of unique programs like Music Heals is made possible.”  

For more information on the ASO, its Music Heals program or this special musical performance, contact the ASO at 410-269-1132 or visit

For more information on Autism Speaks, please contact or visit .


The Annapolis Symphony Orchestra is led by Maestro José-Luis Novo and features 70 professional musicians who perform a variety of symphonic music for audiences of all ages. Performances are held at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts and other locations within the Anne Arundel County community. 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. For more information on the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, visit or call 410-269-1132.


Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Bob and Suzanne Wright, grandparents of a child with autism.

Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 88 children; one in 54 boys in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.

The mission of Autism Speaks is to change the future for all who struggle with autism spectrum disorders. We are dedicated to funding global biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and cure for autism; to raising public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families, and society; and to bringing hope to all who deal with the hardships of this disorder. We are committed to raising the funds necessary to support these goals.  For more information, please visit .