The donor: Elizabeth Turnbull
The gift: Founding the Mysterious Barricades Concert Society
The reason: To raise awareness about suicide and mental illness
Chris Kubash was an engineer, woodworker and musician who, like many Canadians, struggled with mental illness for years. In the days after he died by suicide on Sept. 15, 2015, at the age of 52, his wife Elizabeth Turnbull got a flash of inspiration for how to honour him.
“I just had this idea that I wanted a concert,” said Ms. Turnbull, who is a voice instructor at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. “I wanted all my friends to perform. I knew that would be something he would love as well.”
Ms. Turnbull contacted music colleagues across the country and they organized a day-long series of concerts from St. John’s to Victoria. The event was designed to raise awareness about suicide and mental illness, and it ranged from solo performances to 50-voice choirs. All of the musicians donated their time and the concerts were live-streamed to 40 countries. Ms. Turnbull called it the Mysterious Barricades Concert Society, named after one of Mr. Kubash’s favourite pieces of music, written for the harpsichord by early 18th-century French composer François Couperin.
The event has been held annually ever since and 15 concerts will be streamed on Sept. 14 this year, from sunrise to sundown, from St. John’s; Halifax; Sackville, N.B.; Montreal; Ottawa; Toronto; London, Ont.; Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont.; Winnipeg; Saskatoon; Calgary; Edmonton; Kelowna, B.C.; Vancouver and Victoria.
Ms. Turnbull, 56, is turning the society into a registered charity and she plans to raise money for the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.
“For me, it was all about healing,” she said. “It was about connection and feeling like I wasn’t the only one to suffer this loss. And knowing as I do that music heals. Music is a healing force.”