IMNF Music Has Power Awards Returns After a Three-Year Hiatus

Dr. Concetta Tomaino, Renée Fleming, Harry Ballan and David J. Gentner

The Institute for Music and Neurologic Function (IMNF), a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing scientific inquiry into music and the brain, and developing clinical treatments to benefit people of all ages, hosted the Music Has Power Awards after a three-year hiatus. Held at the Times Center on Nov. 19, IMNF honored Opera great Renée Fleming and IMNF Board member Harry Ballan.

Renée Fleming, one of the most highly acclaimed singers of our time, was honored for her role in launching a collaboration between the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the National Institutes of Health on music, wellness, and the brain. IMNF also honored Dean of Touro Law Center and IMNF Board member Harry Ballan for his support to the Institute.

“It was a privilege to be honored together with Renee Fleming in service to all those whose lives have been and will be saved by music’s unique power to heal and promote human flourishing,” said Mr. Ballan. “In accepting this award, I celebrate the partnership of the IMNF and Wartburg and the work of all those who tirelessly pursue the mission of healing through music.”

Emceed by former PBS broadcaster Midge Woolsey, the Music Has Power Awards began with a cocktail reception and then moved into the beautifully appointed theater for performances by Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, mezzo soprano J’Nai Bridges and pianist Gordon Schermer. Funds raised through this celebration will support patient care along with clinical and scientific research.

The award given to honorees was designed specifically for IMNF. Past recipients have been physicians, scientists, musical artists, performers, and members of the music industry and business community. The event recognizes the accomplishments of exceptional individuals who have brought new understanding to the use of the power of music to awaken and heal. Celebrity performers have graced the stage at previous Music Has Power Award ceremonies to honor these individuals. Past celebrity performers include Chris Martin, Dominic Chianese, the Beastie Boys, Michael Feinstein, Jim McNeely, Dustin Hoffman, Moby, Vanessa Carlton and Kris Kristofferson.

Dr. Concetta Tomaino, Executive Director of IMNF, said, “Our partnership with Wartburg has helped us fulfill our mission to advance clinical music therapy practice through systematically researching the impact of music on neurologic function. We’re thrilled to celebrate the honorees and raise funds for patient care, education and research.”

Wartburg partnered with IMNF last year to offer individualized music therapy for those living with neurologic issues such as Aphasia, Alzheimer’s and dementia as well as children with developmental needs through Wartburg’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Program. IMNF also hosts a “Healing Music” program for veterans with traumatic brain injury, neurological issues and PTSD.  “Healing Music” treated award attendees to a performance as well as led the attendees in a sing-a-long featuring “Stand by Me.”

“The partnership between the Institute and Wartburg is exciting as it elevates Wartburg’s Creative Aging & Lifelong Learning programs. The Institute will also bring more research to lower Westchester as well as expand our partnerships and foster new ones,” said Dr. David J. Gentner, Wartburg President and CEO. “Through best practices, the Institute will enhance the quality of life of those we serve, many of whom are medically indigent.  Congratulations to Ms. Fleming and Mr. Ballan, and my gratitude to Wartburg’s Foundation for their generosity and support with this initiative.”

“I was always kind of interested in the music and the mind…and started working as a consultant with the Kennedy Center.  We want to understand the brain, it is the only activity, bar none, that affects a huge amount of the brain at one time,” Fleming said from the podium at the event. “I am really loving this journey and it is an honor and a privilege to be associated with this extraordinary work. In fact, what [Dr. Tomaino] said when I visited [Wartburg] was with the amount of therapy she is working on and able to provide she is finding that patients with dementia are really able to maintain that sense of self in memory.  This is our future and I want more people to know about it.  I am very proud and thankful to receive this honor.”




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