Sunday, July 14, 2024

The Me2/Orchestra performs in 2018. (Photo: Me2/Orchestra via Facebook)

Mental health matters loomed at the heart of “Joker,” but few paying for a fandom experience may have taken much reflective notice. Those struggling with mental disorders are more cinematically central in the small local doc “Orchestrating Change,” which screens Saturday at the Boston Public Library and has subsequent showings at McLean Hospital and Bunker Hill Community College. The subject matter suggested in the title – the Me2/Orchestra – is made up of performers challenged by mental illness (the Me2 tag was adopted before the #MeToo movement broke) with the goal of quelling inner turmoil through community and symphonic harmony.

Carinetist Howard Bernstein of Inman Square plays with the Me2/Boston orchestra. (Photo: Me2/Orchestra)

The Me2/Boston orchestra (the film also covers Vermont’s Me2/Burlington group) features a few Cantabrigians in its diverse cast, including newly joined concert master Roya Moussapour, a grad student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and clarinetist Howard Bernstein of Inman Square. Featured prominently in the film, Bernstein, 41, was diagnosed with a mental illness 10 years ago and after some personal struggles (for the purposes of this article Bernstein did not want to go into detail, but instead focus on the “wins”) found performing to be a salve. He did some acting and singing and returned to playing the saxophone, which he had learned and practiced during his youth. Through a friend, Bernstein, who holds a law degree, learned of Me2/Boston, but the group, whose focus is classical, did not have a need for a sax player. Being inclusive, however, and true to its mission, Me2/Boston asked Bernstein if he could play the clarinet and gave him a loaner.

A nonprofit, the Me2/Orchestra, whose mission tag is “Classical Music for Mental Health,” launched Me2/Boston in 2014. Primarily, it plays to peers, with the goal of mutual healing. “We often play psychiatric inpatient units, or centers for those dealing with addiction,” Bernstein says.“More and more studies are coming out about the healing power of music. The Me2/Orchestra has really helped me, and many others. I enjoy our mission, and am happy to be in an orchestra playing great music for a great cause.”

Listings of “Orchestrating Change” screenings are here. Information about he Me2/Orchestra is here.