Concert brings Canadians together for suicide awareness

13-concert day-long event concludes at UVic Sept. 10

UVic School of Music voice professor Benjamin Butterfield is co-ordinating the local Mysterious Barricades concert

UVic School of Music voice professor Benjamin Butterfield is co-ordinating the local Mysterious Barricades concert

The healing power of music will bring Canadians together Saturday in a cross-country concert for suicide awareness, prevention and hope, ending here at the University of Victoria.

Mysterious Barricades is a 13-concert, coast-to-coast initiative beginning in Newfoundland first thing in the morning and concluding at 6:30 p.m. at the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall. All concerts will be live-streamed throughout the day at mysteriousbarricades.org.

UVic School of Music voice professor Benjamin Butterfield is co-ordinating the local concert.

“My friend and colleague with whom I’ve sung for many years, Elizabeth Turnbull, lost her husband last year due to complications with mental illness,” Butterfield says. “She approached her singing colleagues from across the country to participate in this initiative.”

The idea took off and has garnered national attention and participation from post-secondary institutions across the country.

The concerts aim to open dialogue about understanding and prevention (on local, provincial and national levels) through music, while raising funds to educate and support those at risk and those affected.

“When Beth lost her husband like that, her way was to reach out through what she loves, which is music,” Butterfield says. “It’s a gathering of friends to connect through what we all know, which is music.”

Featured are some of Canada’s finest performers of classical, jazz, Indigenous, choral, folk and new music, coming together in a remarkable event to mark World Suicide Prevention Day Sept. 10.

Artists were invited to choose music that reflected their personal sense of the topic, Butterfield says.

In addition to Butterfield, the local program will feature the Lafayette String Quartet, Suzanne Snizek on flute, pianists Michelle Mares and Harald Krebs, Colin Tilney on harpsichord, soprano Sharon Krebs, tenor Ken Lavigne and Victoria’s Louise Rose, among others. Local performer and radio documentary producer Rebecca Hass will MC the evening.

Along with the support of the performers, people are contributing their time and talents in all areas of the production, Butterfield notes.

“I’m really happy that people have come together,” he says, suggesting the timing of the concert, as students and families head into a new school year – a time that can bring considerable stress – is opportune.

“Let’s head into this year with a common sense of ‘We’re in this together,’” he says.

“I would love that (audience members) take away something that makes them truly open to being with people, and just to be more alive in your day and your relationships because the catch is (suicide) … is happening and it will affect you, if not directly, then someone close to you,” Butterfield reflects.

“Maybe it’s just trying to acknowledge that we’re all human.”

Admission to the concert is free, but guests are encouraged to support mental health initiatives by donating to the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, the Canadian Mental Association and other local mental health organizations.

Information on suicide awareness and prevention will also be available from these partner organizations. For more information or to enjoy the 13 concerts online, visit mysteriousbarricades.org.