A screen drops from the rafters, obscuring a section of the concert hall stage in the midst of a 44-piece orchestra and 50-member children's choir. As the musicians play the opening strains of an Argentine tango, two ballroom dancers appear in silhouette, moving gracefully behind the screen as the music swirls around them. The song ends, the screen slides away, and a septuagenarian couple, Bob and Nancy Dufault, are revealed as the dancers. Nancy, afflicted with Parkinson's disease, has trouble moving without a walker and is often confined to a wheelchair. But while the music plays, she can dance. While the music plays, she is healed.
The Argentine tango is just one of 12 movements in the "Symphonic Suite for Healing," a music therapy project that will premiere Saturday, March 1st, at the Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa. Composed by former David Bowie pianist and rock star emeritus Mike Garson, each of the movements in the symphony was selected for the beneficial effect it produces in patients with brain-based illnesses. The Foundation for Neurosciences, Stroke and Recovery (FNSR) is sponsoring the concert with the Philharmonic Society of Orange County.