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  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    ENGLAND - The prevalence of drink and drug addiction among classical music performers is being addressed in Addicts' Symphony, a Channel 4 documentary that airs tonight (27 August).

    The pressure of concerts, nerves and the need to 'fit in' can push all performers towards narcotics, it has been claimed. Addicts' Symphony will tell the stories of ten classical musicians whose lives have been hamstrung by addiction. One of those taking part is Rachael, a session musician in the pop industry. Formerly a star of the National Youth Orchestra, she began suffering panic attacks at the age of 14 and years later found solace in drink, at one stage even downing a litre and a half of vodka every day.

    "Addiction problems are widespread among classical musicians, for many reasons," she told the Radio Times. "There is the lifestyle, the odd hours, working weekends, post-concert socialising. "Many players use alcohol and beta-blockers to control their performance anxiety and then, after the 'high' of a performance, musicians can struggle to 'come down' and therefore drink to relax – which becomes habitual." Another participant, Joolz, started out with a promising career when she won the highest mark in the country for her Grade 8 violin exam.

    However, the fear of not being able to live up to the expectation was too much and she also turned to drink, eventually suffering near multiple organ failure as a result of her addiction. Other participants reportedly used cocaine, heroin and amphetamines during their careers. Rachael, Joolz and others with similar stories have been brought together by composer James McConnel for a one-off performance with the London Symphony Orchestra.

    Channel 4 said, "Some have been sober for years, some for only a few months. As a musician, composer and recovering alcoholic himself, James has found that music became a huge part of his recovery and he wants to share this with others in a similar position."

    McConnel's is a story soaked in tragedy. While he managed to overcome the addictions of his youth, 20 years later his son Freddy died of a heroin overdose at the age of just 18 - the catalyst for his commitment to the project. "Before he died, Freddy said: 'Dad will you look into the idea of music being an aid to recovery?'" explained McConnell. "If he hadn't taken a dodgy dose of heroin, he might have got to that point. Music can give you the same feeling that drugs can, only better. I cannot see why it couldn't work for other people."

    International Business Times/ August 27, 2014


    Newshawk Crew

    Author Bio

    BT2H is a retired news editor and writer from the NYC area who, for health reasons, retired to a southern US state early, and where BT2H continues to write and to post drug-related news to DF.


  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    Addicts' Symphony Inspiration Freddy McConnel's Father Speaks Of Son's Death

    [IMGL=white]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=40054&stc=1&d=1409163119[/IMGL]ENGLAND - There are few things more difficult in this world than a parent having to bury their son or daughter. So when Freddy McConnel died of a heroin overdose in 2011, his parents James McConnel and Annie Tempest went through months of hell.

    Freddie was a talented young man who gradually succumbed to a fatal drug addiction, believing that stars like Pete Doherty and Peaches Geldof were the epitome of glamour and idolising their tearaway lifestyles. Towards the end of his life he had started to socialise in these circles. In fact, after the 18-year-old passed away, his parents found a copy of his diary where he had written: 'Peaches is coming over later and I am going to inject for the first time. Perhaps I will die. I hope I don’t.'

    But in the last three years after his death, Freddy's family have sought to make something positive out of his tragic tale. A TV programme called Addicts' Symphony on Channel 4 tonight charts the paths of a group of drug or alcohol-addicted classical performers as they attempt to rebuild their careers and lives by performing together as an orchestra.

    The show was the brainchild of Freddy's father James, who appeared on This Morning earlier today to talk about the reason behind it. A recovering alcoholic himself, James has an affinity with the members of the orchestra because of his own experience with addiction, but it is also poignant because of his son's troubles in that area. He said: 'As addicts we are uncomfortable in our own skins and therefore looking for ways to medicate.

    'My son was a very good musician but also a fabulous writer. He was always very bright and gifted and if he didn’t want to do something he wouldn't, but if he wanted to do something he went after it like a terrier down a rabbit hole. Even in the way he gulped his orange juice as a child, I could see an addiction personality there. I was an alcoholic, so I recognise it myself. It caused a large amount of worry because I definitely recognised the trait in him - we tried to channel it into something positive. Unfortunately, at 13 he started trying lots of drugs and became obsessed with a certain pop star (Pete Doherty) and that started a downward journey that lasted for five years.' [IMGR=white]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=40055&stc=1&d=1409163119[/IMGR]

    James goes on to explain that despite his own extensive experiences with addiction and his close relationship with his son, he still wasn't able to help cure his drug addiction. He said: 'We were particularly close towards the end of his life, particularly those last six to eight months. 'We spent a lot of the time talking in the kitchen because he mostly lived with me during that time. 'It wasn’t a surprise, I knew he was in a downhill spiral. I knew he was using heroin but it wasn’t like I sat there watching him smoke it - he went to various rehabs and I was always trying to cajole him to that next level when he admitted total defeat.
    'I actually think he would have got there had he not taken that dodgy dose of heroin.'

    James spoke out against addiction extensively after his son's death, in the hope that it would help other people in the same situation. The exposure led to a TV company getting in contact asking if he would like to work alongside them on a drug-related show. He said: 'It was a really positive thing to come out of Freddie's death. I was approached by someone at TV company, asking if I wanted to do something about drugs and teenagers. But I decided to make it about something more than that, something about the road to recovery.
    'Orchestral players have huge pressures to go up and perform every night, they take a pill or a drink but then the solution becomes the curse. I think all of the people who took part benefited hugely, but for a few of them it was a life changing thing. I absolutely want to go further with the group.'

    Addicts’ Symphony is on Channel 4 tonight at 11pm.

    Mail Online/August 27, 2014


    Newshawk Crew
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