The Peabody Post

Links between Mood Disorders, Art, and Music Examined in Johns Hopkins Psychiatry, Peabody Institute Collaboration

December 8 Symposium and Concert celebrate the work of poet Robert Lowell.

November 10, 2017, Baltimore, MD: The creative genius of Pulitzer-Prize winning poet Robert Lowell is at the center of a Johns Hopkins event exploring the links between mood disorders, art, and music on Friday, December 8, at the Peabody Institute. Beginning at 6:00 pm, Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison – Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Dalio Professor in Mood Disorders and author of the Lowell biography Setting the River on Fire: A Study of Genius, Mania, and Character – will lead a Symposium about depression, bipolar disorder, and creativity. The concert which follows at 8:00 pm will feature the work of Peabody Composition Department Chair Michael Hersch, acclaimed as “a natural musical genius who continues to surpass himself,” including pieces of his Carrion-Miles to Purgatory: 13 pieces after poetry of Robert Lowell, described by The Washington Post as “a spare, intense, fiercely inward-turning work.”

Jamison, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Mood Disorders Center and co-author of the standard textbook on bipolar illness, and of the best-selling memoir An Unquiet Mind, is one of this country’s most famous writers about bipolar illness. Her Setting the River on Fire was hailed by The Washington Post as “an exhilarating experience, impassioned, beautifully written, and which achieves a magnificence.” On December 8 in the George Peabody Library, she leads a Symposium which will be moderated by Dr. J. Raymond DePaulo, Jr., former chairman of the Johns Hopkins University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Mood Disorders Center, and chairperson of the National Network of Depression Centers (NNDC). Featured speakers include current chairman, Dr. James “Jimmy” Potash; Dr. Karen Swartz, the Johns Hopkins Mood Disorders Center Director of Clinical Care and Education; and Dr. Jamison.

The concert program will interweave Carrion-Miles to Purgatory with another of Hersch’s works, Images From a Closed Ward, a work described by The Philadelphia Inquirer as a “journey (which) left you in a figurative blindfold taken off momentarily to glimpse another previously unimaginable terrain.” Gramophone Magazine wrote that “Hersch’s grim graphic quartet responding to Michael Mazur’s etchings and lithographs of inmates in a Rhode Island psychiatric hospital during the early 1960s lives a separate though equally haunted life from its visual inspiration.” Hersch, winner of the 2017 JHU President’s Frontier Award, has been described by The New York Times as a composer of works “often startling in their complexity, beauty, and demonic fury.” For this performance in Peabody’s Miriam A. Friedberg Concert Hall, he has engaged the acclaimed FLUX Quartet and director James Daniel, who directed recent productions of Hersch’s monodrama On the Threshold of Winter, to create a multimedia experience.

This interdisciplinary event, co-sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Mood Disorders Center and the Peabody Institute, also commemorates the 40th anniversary of the Peabody Institute’s 1977 affiliation with the Johns Hopkins University, and marks a milestone in the collaborative development of the new Johns Hopkins Center for Music and Medicine. It begins at 6:00 pm on Friday, December 8, in the George Peabody Library, 17 E. Mt. Vernon Place, in Baltimore. Free tickets for both the 6:00 pm symposium and the 8:00 pm concert can be reserved through the Peabody Box Office at 667-208-6620 or

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About the Johns Hopkins Mood Disorders Center

The Johns Hopkins Mood Disorders Center, within Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, offers patient care, research, and education around brain diseases including depression and bipolar disorder. The Center provides a range of specialized clinical services in settings including inpatient units, a day hospital, and consultation and on-going care clinics. Its team of experts is actively engaged in genetic and epigenetic studies of the causes of mood disorders, pharmacogenetic studies of treatment responses, imaging studies of brain structure and function, and clinical trials of novel treatments. The Center is dedicated to improving awareness and educating patients, their families, caregivers, and the community at large about the burden of mood disorders and ways to ease the burden. Because more than 20 million Americans suffer from depression or bipolar disorder, the Johns Hopkins Mood Disorders Center’s goal is to find a cure by understanding their genetics and biology and by translating sound clinical research into good care.

About the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University

Located in the heart of Baltimore’s Mount Vernon Cultural District, the Peabody Institute was founded in 1857 as the first major intellectual and arts center in an American city by philanthropist George Peabody. Now celebrating 40 years as a division of Johns Hopkins University, the Peabody Institute trains musicians and dancers of every age, stages nearly 1,000 concerts and events each year, and extends music and musical training throughout the community. Building on its rich history of professional music training at the highest level and focused on the four pillars of excellence, interdisciplinary experiences, innovation, and community connectivity, Peabody is introducing the Breakthrough Curriculum in Music Leadership to prepare artists for a world that is constantly changing yet still deeply in need of what music brings to the human experience.


Press Contact Only:
Margaret Bell, Peabody Communications Office

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