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February 20, 2014

ODU, Sentara Hosting 'An Evening of Music and Medicine Education' Feb. 25

topstory2-lgDr. Kamal Chémali
topstory2-lgBPrisca Benoit

Music has shown to have a therapeutic effect on the body. Scientific research has proven that the body benefits when music is played.

Those facts will be illustrated in both music and word Tuesday, Feb. 25, when Old Dominion and Sentara Music and Medicine Center, Sentara Neurosciences Institute, present "An Evening of Music and Medicine Education" at 6 p.m. in Chandler Recital Hall of the Diehn Center for the Performing Arts. The free program will feature Sentara neurologist Dr. Kamal Chémali and concert pianist Prisca Benoit, Sentara Music and Medicine artist-in-residence.

Benoit has incorporated the principles of paramedical specialties into her piano pedagogy and collaborates with Chémali in researching the relation between music and medicine. Their lecture-concerts have captivated musicians and scientists all over the world.

President John R. Broderick and Charles Wilson, dean of the College of Arts and Letters, will give opening remarks at the program, to be followed by Chémali's "Overview of Music and Medicine" and a piano recital by Benoit. She will play selections by Mendelssohn, Chopin and Liszt.

Through music, parts of the brain that have been damaged by disease can be reactivated. Patients, whose language has been affected by stroke, often improve when music is added to their treatment. Music can also improve blood pressure, pain levels, anxiety and cognition.

The Sentara Music and Medicine Center focuses on integrating music-based interventions as a treatment for improving the quality of life for patients, caregivers and members of the community. Through clinical research, the Music and Medicine team is committed to furthering the body of knowledge pertaining to the benefits of music on health and disease.

Chémali did his undergraduate studies at the American University of Beirut and studied medicine at the Facultés Universitaires Notre-Dame de la Paix in Namur-Belgium and the Lebanese University in Beirut, Lebanon. He specialized in neurology at Case Western Reserve University-University Hospitals of Cleveland and sub-specialized in neuromuscular diseases and electromyography at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, where he joined the professional staff in 2000.

Chémali started studying the piano at age 7 and completed the Conservatoire National de Beyrouth program at age 17. For the next 15 years, he founded and directed several choirs and chamber ensembles, including the Choir of the Facultés Universitairs Notre-Dame de la Paix in 1988, while a medical student at this university. During his medical training, Chémali's musical activities were largely put on hold until 2000, when he started the Cleveland Clinic Classical Music Club that promotes classical music appreciation among medical residents and fellows.

Combining his role as a physician and musician, Chémali's firm belief in the power of music in connecting people led him to start in 2005 the Doctor-Patient Music Connection Program, where physicians and professional musicians perform for patients in a hospital setting, and the Music and the Brain Concert-Symposia, educational scientific symposia on the effect of music on the nervous system, incorporating live performances. An active researcher in the field of music and neurosciences, Chémali presents lectures and concerts that illustrate the important effect of music on health and disease.

Benoit is a French pianist hailed for her "intense and powerful sound" and her "refined pianistic touch with countless colors." After graduating with honors from the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique (CNSM) of Paris and furthering her studies at Indiana University, Benoit, a prizewinner at major international piano competitions, has performed with prestigious orchestras including Bordeaux-Aquitaine, Capitole of Toulouse, New Japan Philharmonic and National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, to name a few.

A recording artist, Benoit continues to appear regularly as a soloist and chamber musician in different parts of the world. A well-recognized educator and sought-after pedagogical innovator, she is an associate professor at the CNSM of Paris. She was recently named "Yamaha Artist" with only 62 other musicians from all over the globe.