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‘Classical Connections’ Evaluates Music’s Impact on Individuals Suffering Cognitive Decline

The Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra (SBCO) has launched Classical Connections, an innovative program to study the therapeutic benefits of classical music for individuals suffering cognitive or neurological impairment.

Among other things, the four-week program will involve chamber-music performances for elderly dementia patients by SBCO musicians. Music therapist Lori Sunshine will oversee an analysis of observable changes in cognitive function among audience members.

The effort’s inaugural session took place today at Santa Barbara’s Friendship Center Adult Day Care, which is a project collaborator.

“A growing body of evidence suggests that music therapy can promote memory recall and improve emotional health among dementia patients,” said Kevin A. Marvin, Chamber Orchestra executive director. “We see this as a vitally important community outreach program, and plan to expand it as soon as time and resources allow.”

Classical Connections is supported by Union Bank, the James S. Bower Foundation and the Williams-Corbett Foundation.

A board certified music therapist for more than 35 years, Ms. Sunshine currently works with Livingston Memorial Hospice and St. John’s Regional Medical Center, both in Ventura County. She also has practiced in Santa Fe and Taos, N.M., and Europe.

The SBCO’s 2016-17 season continues on Nov. 15 with an intimate chamber music concert in the Santa Barbara Courthouse’s newly restored Mural Room, followed by a holiday program of works by Baroque masters Purcell, Vivaldi, and Corelli at All Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara on Dec. 13.

Future programs include guest artist Frank Huang performing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D at the Lobero Theatre on Jan. 24; Robert Schumann’s Dichterliebe on Feb. 14 at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History; a woodwind showcase on March 21 at the Lobero; and a chamber music and dialogue event featuring KUSC host Alan Chapman on April 4 at the University Club. Closing out the season will be Alessio Bax with Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A Minor on May 16 at the Lobero.

Complete season program information is available online at

For more information, call 966-2441.

— Tim Dougherty for Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra.

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