Awakening the Mind is a tribute to the remarkable life and work of Dr. Oliver Sacks. A physician, best-selling author, professor of neurology at the NYU School of Medicine, and regular contributor to the World Science Festival, The New York Times called him "a poet laureate of contemporary medicine" and "one of the great clinical writers of the twentieth century." With stories from friends, colleagues, patients, admirers, and Dr. Sacks himself, this multi-media memory piece of music, image, and language brings to life this extraordinary man who had an incalculable impact on the worlds of medicine and storytelling.
Produced in partnership with the Oliver Sacks Foundation.
Timo Andres is a composer and pianist who studied at Yale University. A Nonesuch Records artist, his newest album of orchestral works, Home Stretch, has been hailed by The Guardian for its “playful intelligence and individuality.” Notable works include Strong Language, a 2015 string quartet for the Takacs Quartet, and The Blind Banister, a piano concerto for Jonathan Biss and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, which was a 2016 Pulitzer Prize Finalist. In April 2016, Andres joined the New World Symphony for the world premiere of a commissioned chamber work. As a pianist, Andres has performed solo recitals for Lincoln Center, Wigmore Hall, the Phillips Collection, (le) Poisson Rouge, and San Francisco Performances.
Pianist-Composer Michael Brown, winner of a 2015 Avery Fisher Career Grant, has been described by The New York Times as a “young piano visionary” and “one of the leading figures in the current renaissance of performer-composers.” Selected by Sir András Schiff for his “Building Bridges” series in 2016-17, Brown will make debut solo recitals in Berlin, Frankfurt, Antwerp, Zurich, and New York’s 92nd Street Y. Recent highlights include debuts with the Seattle and Maryland Symphony Orchestras and the New York Youth Symphony in Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium. Brown joined the roster of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s CMS Two program in 2015 and performs with the Society in Alice Tully Hall and on tour. A native New Yorker, he earned dual Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Piano and Composition from The Juilliard School.
Aletta Collins studied at the London Contemporary Dance School and is a former associate artist at the Royal Opera House where her commissions include The Red Balloon, Cocteau Voices, and Magical Night. Other commissions include Awakenings and Bloom (Rambert); Shoes (Sadler’s Wells) and Les Noces (Berlin Philharmonic). She recently directed and choreographed If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me at the Young Vic starring Jane Horrocks and Carmen for the Salzburg Festival, conducted by Simon Rattle. Her work as a director includes La Fanciulla del West, Dido and Aeneas, La Voix Humaine and Les Noces (Opera North); and Philip Pullman’s Aladdin (Bristol Old Vic). Her work as a choreographer in theatre and opera includes: Bend It Like Beckham; Made In Dagenham (West End); La Traviata (Glyndebourne & UK Tour); Anna Nicole (Royal Opera House & Brooklyn Academy of Music); The Tempest (Royal Opera House, winner of Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Opera); Drifting and Tilting – The Songs Of Scott Walker (Barbican); The Effect and His Dark Materials (National Theatre).
Since 2002, Mairi Dorman-Phaneuf has held chairs in 14 Broadway productions, including The Bridges of Madison County, A Little Night Music, Sunday in the Park with George and, currently, Fiddler on The Roof. She has been a featured performer with John Pizzarelli, Jeremy Jordan, and Jason Robert Brown. She has appeared in multiple TV broadcasts, including the Live From Lincoln Center Broadcasts; Joshua Bell with Friends @ The Penthouse and Chita Rivera: A Lot of Livin’ To Do. As a classical soloist and chamber musician, she has performed in the major venues of Europe, Asia, and the US. Highlights include performances of the Saint-Saens, Elgar and Dvorak Cello concerti. A graduate of the Guildhall School of Music in London, she holds a Masters and a Doctoral Degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She lives in Hartsdale, NY, with her husband, saxophonist, Marc Phaneuf.
Conor Doyle graduated from The London Contemporary Dance School with a first class BA (Honors) and a Distinction in his Post Graduate Diploma, which he gained as an apprentice with artistic director Jasmin Vardimon. Conor is now a member of the Jasmin Vardimon Dance Company while working towards his Masters.
Christine Ebersole has captivated audiences throughout her performing career, from the Broadway stage to television series and specials, films, concert appearances, and recordings. Ebersole received virtually every Off-Broadway award and her second Tony Award for Leading Actress in a Musical for her “dual role of a lifetime” as Edith Beale and Little Edie Beale in Grey Gardens. Other memorable New York stage performances include her Tony Award-winning performance as Dorothy Brock in the smash hit revival 42nd Street, Steel Magnolias, On the Twentieth Century, Camelot, Oklahoma, Dinner at Eight (Tony and Outer Critics Circle nominations), The Best Man, and Blithe Spirit. This summer she will star in the world premiere of the new musical, War Paint, at the Goodman Theatre. She has appeared in many hit movies, including Amadeus, Tootsie, Richie Rich, Black Sheep, Dead Again, Folks!, Ghost Dad, True Crime, My Girl 2, Mac and Me, Confessions of a Shopaholic, The Big Wedding (which also featured an original composition that she wrote for the end credits), and The Wolf of Wall Street. Ebersole has an extensive list of television credits as well, including Sullivan and Son, Royal Pains, Madame Secretary, American Horror Story: Coven, Retired at 35, Ugly Betty, Law and Order SVU, Boston Legal, Samantha Who, Will and Grace, and was a series regular on the 1981-82 season of Saturday Night Live. In concert, Ebersole has appeared in numerous halls throughout the country including The Kennedy Center, Symphony Hall Boston, The Walt Disney Concert Hall, and Carnegie Hall. A recording artist as well, she has released such albums as: Christine Ebersole: Live at the Cinegrill, In Your Dreams, Sunday in New York, Christine Ebersole Sings Noel Coward and Strings Attached.
Three-time Peabody Award winner, four-time Emmy Award winner, and Dateline NBC correspondent John Hockenberry has broad experience as a journalist and commentator for more than two decades. Hockenberry is the anchor of the public radio show The Takeaway on WNYC and PRI. He has reported from all over the world, in virtually every medium, having anchored programs for network, cable, and radio. Hockenberry is a noted presenter and moderator at conferences such as TED, Aspen Ideas, and the World Science Festival.
Eric Jordan has been sought by opera companies for his trademark “big bass and presence to match” (Opera News). His voice is described as possessing “a resonant, ringing tone that was well produced throughout its range” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch), and The New York Times stated that his “powerful, nuanced singing and thoughtful acting amounted to a wholly remarkable portrayal.” His debut role with the New York City Opera was Ashby in La Fanciulla del West. Jordan returned to the New York City Opera in productions of La Bohème, Semele, Così fan tutte, Madame Butterfly, La Donna del Lago, La Traviata, Capriccio, Il Viaggio a Reims, The Mines of Sulphur, Lysistrata, and Carmen. Jordan’s debut season at the Metropolitan Opera included productions of Don Carlo, Magic Flute, and Pelléas et Mélisande. Before his second season at the Metropolitan, he suffered a major stroke, but was still able to take part in following productions: Les Troyens, Don Carlo, Carmen, A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, Eugene Onegin, and Andrea Chenier. Eric Jordan holds music degrees from the University of California at Los Angeles and the New England Conservatory of Music. A regional finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, he received additional training with the Central City Opera House Association, the International Institute of Vocal Arts, and the Israeli Institute of Vocal Arts.
Tobias Picker, called “our finest composer for the lyric stage” by The Wall Street Journal, has composed works in all genres including five operas to date. Picker’s operas have been commissioned by the Santa Fe Opera, The LA Opera, The Dallas Opera, San Francisco Opera, and The Metropolitan Opera, and have gone on to be produced by New York City Opera, L’Opera de Montreal, Chicago Opera Theater, Covent Garden, Opera Holland Park, and many other distinguished companies. In addition, Picker has composed numerous concert works, commissioned and performed by the greatest orchestras, ensembles and concert artists of our time, including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic, L’Orchestre de Paris, New York Philharmonic, and Philadelphia Orchestra, among others. Tobias Picker was elected to lifetime membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2012.
Concetta Tomaino is the executive director and co-founder of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function. Dr. Tomaino is also the senior vice president for Music Therapy at CenterLight Health System where she has worked since 1980. She is internationally known for her research and lectures on the clinical applications of music and neurologic rehabilitation. Her work has been featured in the media, documentaries, and in books on health and healing. Dr. Oliver Sacks’ book Musicophilia is dedicated to her. Dr. Tomaino is past-president of the American Association for Music Therapy and faculty of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Lehman College, CUNY.
59 Productions combines technology and art to tell amazing stories. Whether creating stage productions, museum installations, live music shows, large-scale events, or films, 59’s team generates creative and technical ideas to help realize ambitious artistic projects. 59’s creative team covers a range of disciplines, including animation, filmmaking, writing, set, sound, and lighting design. These diverse skills are combined with technical expertise and bespoke design to create exciting and innovative work for audiences of all kinds. In recent years, 59 Productions has created the video design for the opening of the London 2012 Olympic Games, the David Bowie exhibition at the V&A in London, and Lighting the Sails of the Sydney Opera House for the Vivid Live festival. Previous work in New York includes the video design for Hedwig and the Angry Inch and An American in Paris (both currently running on Broadway) and Nico Muhly’s Two Boys (Metropolitan Opera).
For the World Science Festival, John Christian Plummer directed Spooky Action: The Drama of Quantum Mechanics, with Brian Greene, and Beautiful Minds: The Enigma of Genius, as well as created several other short films. Plummer recently served as Co-Executive Producer on the new History Channel series Join or Die with Craig Ferguson and is currently directing Our Town for the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. All three seasons of his cold war spy drama, Granite Flats are on Netflix. Plummer has written for NBC, Fox, National Geographic, Discovery, MTV, Comedy Central, TBS, IFC and Bravo.