"George Gershwin led a life that is fascinating, and especially fascinating from a psychiatric perspective,” New York psychiatrist and concert pianist Richard Kogan told Psychiatric News recently in an interview. Kogan will perform his annual “The Music and the Mind” concert and lecture on Sunday, January 11, at the College of New Jersey, to benefit the New Jersey chapter of NAMI (National Association for the Mentally Ill). Each year he focuses on one composer and this year it’s Gershwin.

Kogan has noted that it is intriguing how music seems to have cured Gershwin’s apparent conduct disorder — a psychiatric category to describe a pattern of repetitive behavior of children in which they violate the personal or property rights of others and the basic expectations of society — especially as he did not come from a family with musical talent, which has been the case with most great composers. Secondly, Gershwin was intrigued by noises that put many people off and tended to hear them in a fast, clipped fashion. “I think he heard them that way in part because of his hyperactive nature,” says Kogan.

Kogan has been praised for his “eloquent, compelling and exquisite playing” by the New York Times, and the Boston Globe wrote that “Kogan has somehow managed to excel at the world’s two most demanding professions.” He has gained international recognition for his lecture/recitals that explore the role of music in healing and that examine the influence of psychiatric and medical illnesses on the creative output of composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, and Tchaikovsky.

He will give an address entitled “The Power of Music in Healing Mind and Body” at the 2009 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. As part of the January 11 benefit he will perform Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” A gala dinner and auction will follow the performance. Proceeds will sustain education, services, support and a helpline for the families of persons affected by mental illness — all provided free of charge.

Night Out with NAMI, NAMI Mercer, Music Building, College of New Jersey, Ewing. Sunday, January 11, 3 p.m. Benefit lecture recital features pianist and psychiatrist Richard Kogan presents “The Mind and Music of George Gershwin.” Concert, $70; concert and dinner, $185. Festive attire welcome. Snow date is Sunday, January 18. 609-799-8994 or www.namimercer.org.

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