MUHC Mental health patient choir showcases musical talents in Europe

Members of award-winning choral group MusiArt are patients with MUHC Department of Psychiatry


MONTREAL- April 19 , 2011 – Le groupe MusiArt, a creative arts, performance and therapy group from the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), will soon travel to Europe for a 10-day tour. The group, composed entirely of patients followed by the MUHC Mental Health Mission, will perform at several locations in and around Niort, in western France, at the invitation of The Department of Psychiatry of l’Hôpital de Niort.

From April 28 to May 7, MusiArt members will give five concerts, share their work with three other choirs and participate in a conference with the psychiatry staff at the host institution. The tour marks another milestone in the evolution of this unique and award-winning group.

“MusiArt was formed in 1998, at the Montreal General Hospital, and is the only group of its kind in which all the singers are outpatients,” explains Dr. Marie-France Boudreault, MUHC psychologist and Director of the group. MusiArt, which is co-managed by Music Therapist Dany Bouchard, aims to improve mental health through creative expression; to enhance members’ well-being and self-esteem; and to educate the public about mental health issues.

Group members have a variety of psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, manic depressive disorders and depression. As part of their ongoing therapy, they participate in weekly choir rehearsals and give public performances several times each year. “The quality and originality of their performances clearly demonstrate the great creative abilities and discipline that people living with mental illness have, not to mention their ability to function well in demanding situations,” says Dr. Boudreault.

In addition to performing a wide range of popular and traditional songs in both French and English, MusiArt members also write and record their own songs. Their first CD, Confidences…in confidence, was released in 2008. The group plans to issue a second CD titled Perceptions later this year. Since its inception, MusiArt has been recognized with numerous awards and bursaries, including an MUHC Innovation Bursary, a bursary from the Quebec Psychiatric Association and the 2008 Recognition Award from AMI Québec (Action on Mental Illness) as well as an award from the Canadian Psychiatric Association for the Most Innovative Mental Illness Awareness Week Event for the year 2000. In 2010, the group staged a very successful six-day singing tour of the Maritimes.

The upcoming tour of France is generously supported by the Royal Victoria Hospital Foundation. “We are very grateful to the Foundation for helping the group bring its music to Europe,” says Dr. Boudreault. “The MusiArt tour will further heighten awareness and demystify issues surrounding mental illness.”

About the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) One of the world’s foremost academic health centres, the MUHC offers exceptional and integrated patient-centric care, research teaching and technology assessment. Highly committed to the continuum of care in its community and affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine of McGill University, The Montreal Children's Hospital, the Montreal General Hospital, the Royal Victoria Hospital, the Montreal Neurological Hospital, the Montreal Chest Institute and the Lachine Hospital of the MUHC value multidisciplinary service throughout the lifespan, innovative technologies and practices, strategic partnerships and leadership in knowledge transfer. The MUHC is currently carrying out a $2.25-billion Redevelopment Project on three campuses—the Mountain, the Glen and Lachine—designed to provide healthcare professionals with an effective environment in which to ensure patients and their families benefit from The Best Care for Life. The campuses are also anchored in best sustainable-development practices, including LEED® and BOMA BESt guidelines.