Classical 91.5

Dialogue on Disability

Classically trained violinist and songwriter Gaelynn Lea has been immersed in music since her childhood. While she says her primary focus in life is on her career as a musician, it was her rise to fame after winning the 2016 NPR Tiny Desk contest when she also took on a new role - that of a disability advocate and public speaker.  During a recent concert in Rochester at Nazareth College, Lea told Need to Know that the underrepresentation of people with disabilities in the arts has given her a new stage to share a powerful message.

I don’t always think to mention it. I’m so used to it, that in most situations I pretty much forget about it, until someone asks me if I’m nervous or wonders if they’re making me uncomfortable.

“Oh no, I’m not worried. My hands just shake! It’s called Essential Tremor.”

It’s something I’ve had as long as I can remember – at least since third grade, when I went to a neurologist. I remember three things about that visit:

Photo: Eastman School of Music

What happens when a musician goes deaf? Most simply retire. A few--Beethoven being the most famous case--carry on. Meet Gaelen McCormick. Gaelen began having hearing problems some years back, and was ultimately diagnosed with Bilateral Meniere's Disease. With fight or flight as her two options, Gaelen has chosen the former.

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Through the centuries and today, many classical composers and performers have overcome challenges in order to create and perform the music we love.  Throughout the week of January 8-14, 2018 Classical 91.5 hosts will be celebrating these individuals by presenting music by composers and performers who have overcome challenges.