Digital Video Event & Live Q&A
Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Hosted by COC Composer-in-Residence Ian Cusson, MindBodyMusic gathers a panel of artists and scientists to explore music’s impact on our minds and bodies in this live digital video event.

Panellists include Ensemble Studio singer Jamie Groote, alongside Dr. SarahRose Black, Dr. Charles Limb, and Dr. Swathi Swaminathan, representing the fields of psychotherapy, neuroscience and psychology respectively. As active musicians themselves, they’ll offer a unique perspective into how the mind, body and music intersect.

Thank you for attending our first COC in Conversation event –– MindBodyMusic. If you missed the live discussion, feel free to re-watch below:



Ian Cusson is a composer of art song, opera and orchestral work. Of Métis and French-Canadian descent, his work explores the Canadian Indigenous experience, including the history of the Métis people, the hybridity of mixed-racial identity, and the intersection of Western and Indigenous cultures. He studied composition with Jake Heggie (San Francisco) and Samuel Dolin, and piano with James Anagnoson at The Glenn Gould School. He is the recipient of the Chalmers Professional Development Grant, the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation Award, and grants through the Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council. Cusson was an inaugural Carrefour Composer-in-Residence with the National Arts Centre Orchestra for 2017-2019 and is Composer-in-Residence for the Canadian Opera Company for 2019-2021. Ian is an Associate Composer of the Canadian Music Centre and a member of the Canadian League of Composers. He lives in Oakville with his wife and four children.


Dr. SarahRose Black is an accredited music therapist and registered psychotherapist, specializing in palliative care and psychosocial oncology at both the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and Kensington Hospice in Toronto. She is a pianist, vocalist, violinist, and music health educator, and has performed, taught, and presented on her clinical work and research across Canada. As a lecturer and educator, she specializes in educating health care providers in the use of music as a tool for optimal health care. She has presented at conferences, arts-based workshops and medical education events across the country.

Dr. Black has published on music and health care, music therapy, as well as oncology, palliative and end of life care in a number of academic journals, as well as   Toronto Star, Maclean’s  magazine, and the Cancer Knowledge Network. Her music therapy specializations include improvisation and songwriting, and her clinical work has been featured on Global TV, The WholeNote, CBC, and a number of podcasts and radio programs.

She obtained her doctorate from the University of Toronto in February of 2020, including a Collaborative Specialization in Aging, Palliative and Supportive Care across the Life Course. Her doctoral research explored music therapy in the context of assisted dying. Dr. Black is the Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Journal of Music Therapy, and continues to teach, research, and provide music therapy and psychosocial care in her daily clinical practice.

Dr. SarahRose Black - Podcast episode:

Dr. SarahRose Black's work with Pulse Music Media:


amie Groote earned her master’s degree in opera performance at the University of Toronto (UofT) and is now in her second year with the Ensemble Studio. Some of her roles to date include: Wood Nymph in Rusalka (COC); Page in Rigoletto (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis [OTSL]); Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni (UofT Opera); Nicklausse in The Tales of Hoffmann, Komponist in Ariadne auf Naxos, and Fox in The Cunning Little Vixen (Wilfrid Laurier University Opera); as well as Roméo in I Capuleti e i Montecchi (Opera NUOVA). She was also a Gerdine Young Artist with OTSL, a Bonfils-Stanton Foundation young artist with Central City Opera, and has attended Houston Grand Opera’s Young Artists Vocal Academy, Opera in the 21st Century at Banff Centre, and Opera NUOVA.

Dr. Charles Limb is the Francis A. Sooy Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and the Chief of the Division of Otology, Neurotology and Skull Base Surgery at UC San Francisco. He is also the Director of the Douglas Grant Cochlear Implant Center at UCSF and holds a joint appointment in the Department of Neurosurgery. Dr. Limb is the PI of a National Endowment for the Arts Research Lab that studies the neural basis of musical creativity. He is also currently serving as the Co-Director (with Dr. Julene Johnson) for the National Endowment for the Arts Sound Health Network. His work on creativity and music perception in cochlear implant users has been featured in media and venues worldwide including National Public Radio, TED,
National Geographic, The New York Times, PBS, CNN, Scientific American, the BBC, the Kennedy Center, Smithsonian Institute, the Library of Congress, the Sundance Film Festival, CBC, Wired, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the American Museum of Natural History.


Dr. Swathi Swaminathan is a postdoctoral fellow in the Brain and Mind Institute at the University of Western Ontario. Her work is currently supported by a BrainsCAN fellowship. She received her doctoral degree in psychology from the University of Toronto, and master’s degrees in experimental and clinical psychology from Oxford University (U.K.) and Christ University (India), respectively. Her research seeks to understand how musical and other artistic endeavours relate to cognitive development and change across the lifespan. She explores these questions using a combination of basic research carried out in lab settings and applied research carried out in community settings. In previous work she has explored basic theory-focused questions such as the modularity (or relative independence) of music and language in children and adults’ minds, and the contributions of training and aptitude in the development of musical and non-musical skills. She has also worked on applied research asking whether virtual interventions can improve the wellbeing of older adults in care settings by improving their access to art in museums and arts-based recreation more generally. Currently, she is studying the psychological and neural mechanisms by which music cues autobiographical memory even in dementia, and whether music-listening interventions can have positive long-term impacts on autobiographical memory for people living with dementia in the community.

Besides being a central focus of her research life, music is also a constant avenue of personal learning. She trains in singing in the Dhrupad style of North Indian classical music with the world-renowned vocalist, Pandit Uday Bhawalkar.

Swathi Swaminathan is a member of the team at Jessica Grahn's lab (Music and Neuroscience Lab, Brain and Mind Institute, Western University):


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