Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra Launches Program to Study Cognitive Benefits of Classical Music

By: Oct. 18, 2016
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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 Chamber Orchestra Executive Director Kevin A. Martin. "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 generously 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, New Mexico, and Europe.

The SBCO's 2016-17 season will continue on November 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 December 13. Future programs will include guest artist Frank Huang performing Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D at the Lobero Theatre on January 24, Robert Schumann's Dichterliebe on Valentine's Day (Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History), a woodwind showcase on March 21 (Lobero Theatre), and a chamber music and dialogue event featuring KUSC host Alan Chapman on April 4 (University Club), before Alessio Bax closes out the season May 16 with Schumann's Piano Concerto in A Minor at the Lobero.

Complete season program information is available online at

For more information, call 805-966-2441.

Founded in 1978, the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra is devoted to presenting concerts and programming of exceptional quality, and to fostering engagement with classical music among community members of all ages. The organization's reputation for excellence has long attracted musicians of uncommon achievement. Current and former SBCO musicians perform with the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Opera, Pacific Symphony, and the Santa Barbara Symphony. Acclaimed conductor Heiichiro Ohyama has served as music director of the ensemble since 1983. For more information, visit


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