Awakenings Project: Music


From the beginning of the Awakenings Project, we have had some associations with musicians with mental illnesses--namely, musicians who played at several of our art show opening receptions, and an association with a veteran's group sponsoring a concert in Washington D.C., in 1999. They invited Awakenings to set up an art exhibit in the lobby of the concert hall. Still, we had a larger vision for Awakenings Music. This part of the Awakenings Project began to be realized when in February 2000 Wendy Liles learned of us by reading an interview with Lundin appearing in City Talk, the weekly newspaper of Channel 11, WTTW. Liles, who had 20 years earlier abandoned a musical career after falling into the grip of major depression, was motivated by her own experience to help artists in similar circumstances to continue their artistic development and careers. She contacted Lundin to find out how she could help. The initial plans for Awakenings Music began to be hammered out.


For its debut, Awakenings Music collaborated with the nearby Wheaton College Conservatory of Music and the Wheaton College Psychology Department on the development of a program to raise public awareness of the impact mental illness had in the life of many great composers. It would also highlight the remarkable resilience which some, like Robert Schumann and Alexander Scriabin, had mustered in order to create great musical art.

Trombone and blank manuscript paper

Click on the title below for a sample of Wendy Liles' works, from her senior recital at Wheaton College Conservatory of Music in 1978.

Essay in Three Movements for Trombone and Piano

  • Angry
  • Ponderous
  • Flippant
Performed by
John Mindeman (trombone) and Kenneth Mays (piano)

In October 2002, as part of the Conservatory's Faculty Recital Series, the program, "Awakenings: Composers 'Touched by Fire,"" comprised singularly of music of several composers who had varying forms of mental illness. It was presented by three conservatory faculty members: Karin Redekopp Edwards (piano), Lee Joiner (violin), and Daniel Davies (cello), with Sally Canning, from the department of psychology, providing commentary. Awakenings Fine Arts exhibited in the lobby before and after the performance. Earlier in the day the former Dean of the Conservatory, Dr. Harold Best, shared his experience of living with depression with the College's student body during chapel services, and in a more intimate session with music students and faculty.

Awakenings Music envisions future collaborations similar to this as a means of on-going public education. We also envision a "musician's registry" for linking performers to performance opportunities, a juried competition for composers, an Awakenings Project Jazz Band, and many other opportunities for musicians with mental illness to express themselves artistically.


Awakenings musicians have generously donated their time and talents to play at opening receptions, poetry readings, benefit dinners, and other occasions.
Mark Hull Musicians Robert Lundin

We have created a category on our Resources page for musicians with websites, and we are in the process of trying to create a CD of music and poetry. If music is your passion, we would like to hear from you, with additional ideas and suggestions. We would like to begin building a "corps" of musicians, much as we have of visual artists, so we can begin to plan independent projects, as well as collaborations. If you live in the Chicagoland area and would like to become actively involved, please Contact Us to let us know how we can facilitate that.


Music Nights

Mandy Rakow

One of our very talented musicians has been lead organizer for "Local Music Nights," formerly at Gallery 200 and currently at 203 Turner Court, which she has essentially transformed into a "coffee house" atmosphere. West Chicago is an Illinois Arts Friendly Community, which it shows by nurturing Gallery 200 and the many talented artists who come through its doors at 200 Main Street, and now an additional entrance at 203 Turner Court which accesses a lower level devoted to classes and special events, like Local Music Nights and more.

You can join Local Music Nights Group on Facebook by clicking Awakenings Project: Facebook.

And you can join The Awakenings Project Group on Facebook by clicking Facebook: Awakenings Project


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