Professor’s Music to Appear in Ground-Breaking Documentary on Alzheimer’s

Created: October 18, 2016
Last Updated: July 17, 2020

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WASHINGTON, PA (Oct. 18, 2016) – A Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) music professor is contributing to a local cause through song.

W&J Assistant Professor of Music Kyle Simpson, along with Pittsburgh-based musician and filmmaker Tom Kurlander, is composing the music for 21Voices: Touched by Alzheimer’s. Kurlander is producing this new documentary to raise awareness about how Alzheimer’s affects families and caregivers as well as patients. The film will feature twenty-one interviewees chosen for their distinct purview and experience with Alzheimer’s and dementia, including patients, families, caretakers, first responders and researchers.

The pair will perform original music in two upcoming concerts that will serve as fundraisers for the film. “A Rock Symphony,” featuring Simpson, Kurlander, and other Pittsburgh area musicians, is Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. at The Oaks Theater in Oakmont, Pa. A second concert is Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School in Cranberry Township, Pa. Tickets are $45 for general admission and $10 for students, and are available at 21Voices.org.

All proceeds benefit the nonprofit organization 21Voices, and the production of 21Voices: Touched by Alzheimer’s. Presbyterian Senior Care is the lead sponsor for the concerts, and spots about 21Voices will also air on WYEP.

“The purpose of this concert is really to start a dialogue about what 21 Voices is doing with this documentary,” said Simpson, whose family personally dealt with Alzheimer’s when his grandfather was diagnosed. “It’s telling the entire story of Alzheimer’s and how everyone in the process is affected.”

The concerts will feature original music from Simpson and Kurlander, but also covered material, such as classical music and rock tunes, that serves to reawaken recollections and memories.

Simpson first heard about 21 Voices through a radio segment. With his family’s personal experience in mind, he contacted Kurlander and offered to help with music in any way he could. He said he didn’t expect to hear from anyone, but that he loved the project and at least wanted the 21 Voices team to know they had his support.

But Kurlander did call, and Simpson said contributing both original pieces and new arrangements to the project has been a wonderful experience.

“Tom has a real vision for this. He knows exactly what he wants and has good idea how to bring that to fruition,” Simpson said.

A release date for the documentary is planned for 2017.

 

About the Composers

Tom Kurlander is a prolific singer songwriter and recording artist, having recently released Sugar Burn Sessions. Tom also tours extensively with his band. His music has been described as “a cross between Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones.” The multi-talented Kurlander is also a noted documentary filmmaker and actor, appearing in such films as Kindergarten Cop, Young Guns II and Flatliners. Kyle Simpson is a Pittsburgh-area composer/performer who played trumpet in the Glenn Miller Orchestra; and has composed music for such ensembles as the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra in Los Angeles, The Count Basie Orchestra, The Janá!ek Philharmonic in Ostrava, CZ and the NYU-ASCAP Film Orchestra in New York. His compositions have been premiered and featured at festivals in France, Czech Republic, Italy, Croatia and North America. In 2011, ASCAP named him a “composer to watch.” To learn more, see www.21Voices.org or www.facebook.com/21VoicesADocumentary/events.

 

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.

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