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The University of Alabama

UA RISE, Music Reps to Introduce Music Therapy Concepts to Russia

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Educators from The University of Alabama’s RISE program and the UA School of Music will travel to St. Petersburg, Russia from Friday, Sept. 21 to Wednesday, Sept. 26 to work with children with disabilities and to develop a bilingual musical.

Dr. Martha Cook, RISE director, Dawn Sandel, RISE music therapist, and Dr. Diane Schultz, associate professor of music, will work with members of the Russian National Orchestra and the State Hermitage Museum to develop a bilingual musical adaption based on the book, “Anna and the Hermitage Cats.”

The project, which is suitable for general audiences as well as children with disabilities, will introduce some concepts of music therapy to Russia.

Cook and Sandel also will assist in developing programs for young children with special needs who are institutionalized at the charitable organization Perspektiva, a center for disabled children.

The musical, titled “Hermitage Cats Save the Day,” will preview at The University of Alabama March 6. It then will premiere at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. March 10 and find its home audience at the Hermitage Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia April 6 and 7 during the annual Day of Cats at the State Hermitage Museum.

The RISE program, a part of the UA College of Human Environmental Sciences, is located in the Stallings Center and named for the family of former UA Head Football Coach Gene Stallings. It serves as a hands-on training facility for UA students majoring in early childhood education, communicative disorders, nursing and social work. In 1999, RISE received accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, a prestigious recognition achieved by only 7 percent of early childhood programs nationwide.

The School of Music is part of UA’s College of Arts and Sciences, which is the University’s largest division and the largest liberal arts college in the state. Students from the College have won numerous national awards including Rhodes Scholarships, Goldwater Scholarships and memberships on the USA Today Academic All American Team.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.