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Photo by Greg Anderson

HeartStrings reaches beyond traditional learning environments to bring live, interactive performances by some of the MSO's best players into healthcare and residential facilities. The sessions have demonstrated extraordinary physical, emotional, cognitive and social changes for residents of all ages, and they have reached more than 3,400 people annually.

MSO Director of Education and Community Engagement Michelle Kaebisch and the Rhapsodie Quartet traveled to Wiesbaden and Freiburg Germany to conduct HeartStrings sessions and to act as the cultural ambassadors for the Freiburg's 25th anniversary Sister CIty Festival. Music Director John DeMain also accompanied them.

Kaebisch and Shannon Lobdell created the HeartStrings Toolkit, which will enable other orchestras throughout the world to create their own HeartStrings Programs. Kaebisch worked directly with music therapists and partnered with the International Society for the Arts in Healthcare and the Waisman Center to develop and implement a HeartStrings curriculum specifically designed for children with disabilities and to expand our evaluation methods and deepen our understanding of the program's impact on participants and caregivers.

The Rhapsodie String Quartet, the program's resident quartet, includes MSO Co-Concertmaster Suzanne Beia, Principal Viola Christopher Dozoryst, Principal Cello Karl Lavine and violinist Laura Burns. These superb musicians make monthly visits to our community partners, bringing a full season of activities to residents and caregivers. Participants are engaged in music-making and movement activities that are grounded in the principles of music therapy. Find out more here.

From the very beginning, the National Endowment for the Arts has recognized HeartStrings as a leader. For eight consecutive years, HeartStrings has received NEA / ArtWorks awards, including three Access to Artistic Excellence Grants. In 2013 alone, the NEA awarded HeartStrings $15,000. See the press release here.

The Society for the Arts in Healthcare (SAH) and Johnson & Johnson chose HeartStrings from among 320 international programs to receive a three-year grant, recognizing it as an innovative model program that uses art to advance healing and preventative health. As part of this grant, the MSO is partnering with SAH and the University of Wisconsin Waisman Center to develop a HeartStrings program specifically for children with disabilities and to expand evaluation methods and deepen understanding of the program’s impact on participants and caregivers.

Michelle Kaebisch gave a presentation on HeartStrings at the Society for the Arts in Healthcare’s 21st international conference. She spoke as part of a consortium of similar programs that receive grants from SAH and Johnson & Johnson. In addition, the MSO was one of only two symphonies in the nation to receive the League of American Orchestra's 2008 MetLife Award for Excellence in Community Engagement.

For more information about HeartStrings, please contact MSO Director of Education and Community Engagement Michelle Kaebisch at mkaebisch@madisonsymphony.org or (608) 257-3734 x225.

Major funding
provided by
Additional funding
provided by
The Evjue Foundation, Inc.,
the charitable arm of
The Capital Times
Irwin A. and Robert D. Goodman Foundation, Inc.
Madison Arts Commission
An Anonymous Friend

This project is funded in part by a grant from the Madison Arts Commission, with additional funds from the
Wisconsin Arts Board.

Wisconsin Arts Board support comes with additional funds from the State of Wisconsin
and the National Endowment for the Arts.