The WFMT Radio Network

WFMT Radio Network

Healing Ceremony

The WFMT RADIO NETWORK presents Healing Ceremony,
a special one-hour radio program, available from October 2012.

"I thought about the power music has over people; I wanted to write something that would change how your body feels -- helping you calm down, handle stress, get in touch with inner feelings and inner thoughts." - Composer Marc Neikrug

"I've always believed that music can be a very healing element and I call it an element because it's just as fundamental and vital and crucial to my life" - Soprano Susan Graham

"Healing Ceremony is the perfect embodiment and expression of what the University of New Mexico Cancer Center aims to do in service to all of our patients suffering from cancer: empowering and integrating our spiritual center and our physical being for complete healing. ... It will be an everlasting source of inspiration, beauty, power, and harmony." - Director and CEO of the University of New Mexico Cancer Center, Cheryl L. Willman, MD

The WFMT Radio Network and eOne Music invite your listeners to experience Healing Ceremony, a world premiere recording of American composer Marc Neikrug's new work for orchestra and voices. This one-hour special will begin with a short documentary about Healing Ceremony, and the musical, spiritual and scientific influences that inspired it. After that, we will hear the work in its entirety in a performance by mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, baritone Matthew Worth, and The New Mexico Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Guillermo Figueroa.

Commissioned for the 2010 dedication of the University of New Mexico's Cancer Institute, Healing Ceremony comes out of Marc Neikrug's long experience as a composer, his abiding interest in the connections between music and human wellness, and also his association with the culture of the Santa Clara Pueblo near Santa Fe where he has lived with his wife, the Native American potter Dolly Naranjo, for 25 years.  Its purpose is to provide listeners with an experience which can help people faced with serious health issues, and those surrounding them, to find balance and calm. Music's powerful influence on the human body is being acknowledged in scientific studies all over the world.  Healing Ceremony combines indigenous rituals from the Native American culture with the beauty of music to induce a state of tranquility and equilibrium, creating receptiveness to healing. 

Given his intimate knowledge of Pueblo worldview, and his strong belief in the power of music to affect the brain, Marc Neikrug set out to compose a unique piece, a healing ceremony.  Though the practical impact on patient treatment is promising, Healing Ceremony is first and foremost a stunning piece of music.  Graham shares the structure of the work like this: "There are eight movements in which Marc has incorporated the four directional elements - North, South, East and West - and the four natural elements - Fire, Water, Air and Earth -- and he alternates the directions with the natural elements. That captures a certain amount of Native American folklore and healing ritual. The nature of the piece is a long journey. There are many moods that are captured in this. As there are for anyone who is facing this situation, there is tumult, frustration, resolution, joy, hope, humor, anger, tonal conflict, and then there is harmony."

As Marc Neikrug explains, "The directions center you. The elements focus on matter within you. Earth grounds you. The air is about breathing. Water is about trying to feel your fluids. Fire becomes a love, and is about feeling your connections to people. As they come one by one what you're getting is a compass about being in the center of your own existence."  These are basic Pueblo concepts of grounding and connection to the earth.
 
Last year through the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival Marc organized a symposium-"Music, the Brain and Wellness." It was attended by many of the leading neuroscientists doing research in music, as well as music therapists and well-known musicians, and is planned to be a recurring event. In one neuroscientist's presentation of a pilot study, patients listening to just the last section of Healing Ceremony lowered their blood pressure by over 20%.

Recently released on eOne Music, the Healing Ceremony CD marks the launch of SoundWell, eOne's new musical line meant to promote human wellness.  Entitled SoundWell, the line explores the effect of music to create an atmosphere that fosters wellbeing.
Veteran WFMT announcer Kerry Frumkin hosts the program with commentary by Marc Neikrug, Susan Graham, and others. 

This 1-hour special is available free of charge to all stations as of October 1, 2013.  Stations may broadcast twice before September 30, 2014 

For more information, please contact Tony Macaluso at 773-279-2114, email: tmacaluso@wfmt.com or Estlin Usher at 773-279-2112, email: eusher@wfmt.com.