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April 11, 2014

Salem State professor, flutist with cerebral palsy release CD

Gloucester’s Robert Bradshaw, an award-winning composer, will be part of a special program delving into the world of music and disabilities tomorrow at Harvard University.

The Salem State University music professor’s new venture began when a flutist with cerebral palsy reached out to the composing world to craft new music. The topic struck a deep chord with Bradshaw.

Musician Catherine Branch, who has cerebral palsy, sent Bradshaw a video of how she moves so he could see how she walks. The composer, whose mission involves creating social connections through music, took up this new charge in 2009. That piece was “Concerto No. 2 for Catherine.” Out of that effort grew a CD titled “At the Root of Identity.” This is the topic the two will share at tomorrow’s presentation, part of a weekend symposium related to music and disabilities. The symposium is free to the public.

During the symposium at 2:45 p.m., the two musicians will explore the relationship of personal performance and the language of disability through the release of their CD.

Branch is a national Leadership, Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) research fellow. Founder of a project titled “Music of Difference,” Branch’s objective is to start positive public conversations about social change and disability and diversity, using the arts as a vehicle to promote social inclusion for people with disabilities.

Branch, who earned a Master of Music at Eastman School of Music, was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship in 2008 to research the role of art in social activism around the world. She is now at work on a doctorate.

“It’s hard to describe Catherine. She’s a force and she affects everyone around her in a positive way,” Bradshaw said. “She just changes people’s lives. I’ve done so many of these presentations with her all over the place, and you see the people in the audience who just have to talk to her afterward.”

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