Music, Health, and Well-Being: A Conversation with Jon Batiste
Music can lift the spirits and heal the body. No musician demonstrates that better than Jon Batiste, the accomplished pianist, composer, and exuberant band leader. As someone who practices daily meditation and prayer, Batiste explained how music is intertwined with his spirituality and mental health during Aspen Ideas: Health 2017. His conversation with fellow New Orleans native Walter Isaacson incorporates moving performances that showcase the therapeutic value of music. We dare you not to sing or clap along.
Alonzo King's LINES Ballet: Nourishing the Heart and Body
World-renowned choreographer Alonzo King and four artists from his international touring company joined us for Aspen Ideas: Health 2017 to demonstrate “what the body is” and how ideas can be communicated through physical language. They offered new insights into artistic obsession and the emphasis on the mind and the heart dancing the bodily instrument. King highlighting the importance of art in developing wholeness — both in human beings and in communities.
Dear Evan Hansen: Broadway and Mental Health
Can a Broadway musical actually help destigmatize and further the mental health conversation in our culture? The Tony Award-winning musical Dear Evan Hansen has proven that the answer is yes – doing just that through sensitive storytelling on stage and the cast and crew's work with mental health not-for-profits off stage. In this 2019 Aspen Ideas: Health panel, Harold Koplewicz, president and medical director of the Child Mind Institute, and Steven Levenson, the Tony Award-winning book writer of Dear Evan Hansen, discuss the delicate task of creating the characters in the musical and how they have helped further the dialogue about this important topic. The session also features a performance from Josh Strobl, a cast member seen in both the Broadway and Toronto productions of the musical.
Music to Our Ears (and Brains): The Arts are Good for Your Health
From the development of the teenage brain to therapies for neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, a growing body of research is showing how the power of music and the other arts can be harnessed to better understand the brain and improve health. During Aspen Ideas: Health's digital program in 2021, Francis Collins, Former Director of the National Institutes of Health, and Renée Fleming, world-renowned soprano, discussed initiatives such as Sound Health and the NeuroArts Blueprint, which are driving this promising research forward. Plus, they teamed up for a special musical duet to lift our pandemic-weary spirits.
Soothing Sounds in the Hospital
Alarms, intercoms, monitors, and other life-saving medical devices batter hospital patients and clinicians with noise around the clock. The impact may be hard to measure, but it’s a fair bet that it doesn’t promote well-being. What if the auditory experience in hospitals was more harmonious and less of an assault on the ears? During Aspen Ideas: Health 2019, sound artist Yoko Sen demonstrated how the soundscape of healthcare settings can be redesigned to help reduce stress and promote healing.
Worth 1000 Words: Public Art as a Public Health Tool
Through the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, public art has proven to be a powerful tool in communicating public health messages, from reminders about hand washing and social distancing to honoring essential workers and encouraging vaccinations. At the forefront of this creative movement to save lives is Amplifier, a nonprofit design lab that builds art and media experiments to advance social movements. During Aspen Ideas: Health's digital program in 2021, Aaron Huey, the organization's Founder and Creative Director, explained how global calls for art have made an impact – and art from the campaign was displayed on campus at our 2022 event.
Musical Genius and Mental Illness: What’s the Link?
Research supports the idea that creatives of all types are over-represented in the population dealing with mood disorders and other psychiatric challenges. Certainly some of the world’s greatest musical masterpieces were composed by musicians who struggled with mental illness. Was it a source of inspiration for their creativity, or did they turn to art to help them heal? During Aspen Ideas: Health 2019, Richard Kogan, a psychiatrist and concert pianist, told stories of the many composers defined both by genius and mental illness and plays transfixing excerpts from some of their greatest works.
Three Caregivers Walk into a Bar: Caregiving, Improvisation, and Humor
The Second City (SC) and Caring Across Generations (CAG) joined forces to develop a unique training program that strengthens the skills of caregivers through improvisational techniques and practices. During Aspen Ideas: Health 2017, CAG co-founder Ai-jen Poo explained how the tools of improv can dramatically transform caregiving relationships – and SC directors Kelly Leonard and Anne Libera led interactive exercises that demonstrate the "yes, and…" mindset and the healing power of collaborative communication.
"Ask Dr. Ruth" Film Screening and Discussion
Almost everyone knows America’s most famous sex therapist, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, now past 90. With her diminutive frame, thick German accent, and uninhibited approach to sex education, Dr. Ruth has transformed both public and private conversations around sexuality. Fewer people know about her early years as a Holocaust survivor and then a machine gunner in the Israeli army. Following a film screening about her life, Dr. Ruth and the documentary's director Ryan White discussed her unlikely path to a career at the forefront of the sexual revolution.
Attend Aspen Ideas: Health 2023
Join us this summer (June 21-24) to explore the fascinating link between the arts and health with more innovative artists.