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From darkness into light

Cross-Canada concert to spread love to those at risk of suicide

Campus and Community

By Mandy Cook

Despite reeling from the devastation of losing her beloved husband to suicide a year ago, Beth Turnbull’s powerful creative force was still firmly intact.

Approximately a week after Chris Kubash died, the idea for Mysterious Barricades, an 18-hour concert beginning at sunrise in Newfoundland and Labrador and ending at sunset in British Columbia, came to the Edmonton, Alta.-based opera singer literally “in a flash.”

Chris Kubash and Elizabeth Turnbull on their wedding day.
Chris Kubash and Beth Turnbull on their wedding day.
Photo: Submitted

“I was still in shock, but I knew I wanted to make music in order to connect with my friends across the country and to raise funds to support those at risk of suicide, for suicide survivors, and for friends and family of those struggling with mental health issues that could potentially lead to suicide,” said Ms. Turnbull, who was married to Mr. Kubash for 27 years.

Daybreak concert

The concert — named for the harpsichord piece Les Barricades Mystérieuses by François Couperin, a favourite of Mr. Kubash’s — will begin at daybreak in the D.F. Cook Recital Hall in the School of Music on Memorial’s St. John’s campus. Once Memorial’s musical program is complete, the performance will move westward to participating university campuses across Canada, following the rising sun until it sets on the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall at the University of Victoria.

Coinciding with World Suicide Prevention Day on Sept. 10, the concert’s mandate is to heal through making music together and to bring greater awareness to the issue of suicide. For Ms. Turnbull, music was the foremost answer to help cope with her pain. She says the energy that musicians and audience members create and share with each other during a performance is “alive and palpable,” literally reverberating in the bodies of those present.

“I believe we virtually resonate on a cellular level,” she said. “And this energetic vibration, shared by everyone simultaneously, connects us in a way that is beautiful, mysterious and healing . . .  It seems to me that those who are affected with mental illness feel disconnected and apart and isolated from the world around them. They have lost that organic connection, which I hope through experiencing music, they can start to re-forge in themselves. That they can feel the deep and spiritual connection between each one of us, so they will not feel alone.”

Chris Kubash and Elizabeth Turnbull in more recent times.
Chris Kubash and Beth Turnbull in more recent times.
Photo: Submitted

First light

On Sept. 10, a mixture of classical, jazz and Aboriginal music will sound out at each campus, beginning in St. John’s — a “critical” location, says Ms. Turnbull, who always envisioned the day’s first light appearing on the water and then reaching land as a crucial part of the whole experience. Wherever possible, each campus will include Les Barricades Mystérieuses.

Local drum group Wape’k Mui’n (White Bear), pianist Kristina Szutor, trumpeter Alan Klaus and numerous other local musicians will perform, and several special guests, including Tina Davies of Richard’s Legacy Foundation for Survivors of Suicide, will participate. Dr. Ian Sutherland, dean, School of Music, will emcee, and Dr. Jane Leibel, voice professor, will direct.

“I was so very moved by Beth’s story and her incredible idea to create a national concert on World Suicide Prevention Day.” –Dr. Jane Leibel

“I agreed to participate in this event because I was so very moved by Beth’s story and her incredible idea to create a national concert on World Suicide Prevention Day, in order to find healing through making music with friends, colleagues and musicians across the country, and to bring greater awareness to the issue of suicide,” said Dr. Leibel. “I am so very grateful for the support of the dean of the School of Music, Dr. Ian Sutherland, Rich Blenkinsopp, music technologist, and all the musicians, speakers, and volunteers that are generously sharing their time and talents, in spite of the early morning hour and making Beth’s dream come true.”

The event is free and will be livestreamed; everyone is welcome. For more information, please visit here.

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