Western University will be one of 13 universities across the country to participate in Mysterious Barricades, a classical music concert series to raise awareness of the effects of suicide. The free event coincides with this Sunday's World Suicide Prevention Day.
The concert series hosted its inaugural event last year. The series was created by Elizabeth Turnbull, a music professor at the University of Edmonton, whose husband died by suicide in September 2015. Wanting to breakdown the stigmas surrounding suicide, Turnbull reached out to her friends and colleagues across Canada to put together the concert series.
“She felt like she had to do something to de-stigmatize the whole issue of mental health and death by suicide,” says Jackalyn Short, a professor in Western's Faculty of Music, lead organizer of the event and a close friend of Turnbull.
All concerts are free to attend without registration and will be live-streamed, starting with Memorial University in St. Johns, N.L., at sunrise, and ending at the Divine Anglican Church in Victoria, B.C., at sunset.
Western's concert will take place at von Kuster Hall in the Music Building at 3 p.m. on Sunday. The von Kuster segment will include 90 minutes of varied music and vocals performed by faculty members. The concert gets its name from a 1717 harpsichord composition, Les Barricades Mystérieuses, a classical song often played at the festival. All together, the series comprises of fifteen locations and over 21 hours of performances.
“Most were very eager to offer their time, people were very generous,” Short says about the participating faculty members.
In addition to musical performances, the event will raise awareness by handing out pamphlets detailing the various services and hotlines available on campus and in London. For Western's event, Short collaborated with student mental health services at Western and the London Middlesex Suicide Prevention Council to gather information.
Only in its second year, Short sees the success of the event.
“After the first concert, many music students came up to me and thanked me for such a great event. It made them feel less of the stigma involved in the issue," Short says.