What is Mysterious Barricades?
We are the Mysterious Barricades Concert Society, organizing an annual series of cross-Canada concerts for suicide awareness, prevention, and hope. Every year in September, we host live concerts performed in a variety of cities across Canada featuring many of the country’s finest professionally trained musicians and performers.
These concerts are then streamed as a coast-to-coast sunrise-to-sunset cross-Canada concert. This year, the live concerts are being held between September 5 and September 14, and the day-long event is taking place on September 14. All concerts are free to attend; the video-stream is free to enjoy online and will remain posted through September 21.
+ Why are we here?
According to the World Health Organization, someone around the globe is killed by suicide every 40 seconds, and more than double the number of people die by suicide than as a direct result of armed conflict. We find this alarming, and in many ways, preventable.
This series of concerts will raise awareness of the mysterious barricades that exist between mental illness and health. We are using music as a way to open pathways to meaningful discourse on difficult subjects such as suicide and mental illness. In concerts, we bring together people who celebrate life and hope, with artists who believe that music is a visceral, deeply healing, and connective force that unites and transforms.
+ How did it all start?
It all started on September 15, 2015, when, after struggling with stress and anxiety for over 20 years, Elizabeth Turnbull’s husband died by suicide. Elizabeth, a professional opera singer and an instructor of voice in the Department of Music at the University of Alberta, had fought the disease of mental illness alongside her husband for all those years. In her grief, Elizabeth vowed to make a difference and was determined to create a platform for dialogue about health and suicide, using the language of music to offer hope and encouragement. Thus, she created Mysterious Barricades.
Our first concert was on September 10, 2016, the internationally recognized World Suicide Prevention Day.
+ Our name.
Les Barricades Mystérieuses was always playing in Elizabeth Turnbull’s home because it was her husband’s favourite piece of music. When he died by suicide in 2015, the idea for the concert flashed through Elizabeth’s mind, as a way to find healing through the music of her fellow musicians, and to celebrate the life of a man she loved and admired.
Fittingly, Mysterious Barricades is an apt description of mental illness—it is strangely unknown and it is fraught with unending obstacles. The beauty of the piece of music is in both its nuanced delicacy and its unapologetic force.
+ Our reach.
Over the past three years approximately 3,800 people have attended the Mysterious Barricades live events and over 11,000 people have viewed the video stream. There have been a range of performances from solos to 50-voice choirs.
Each year has involved more than 150 musical performances and the participation of more than 300 performers. We have hosted 41 concerts over the previous three years, and we will host 15 more in 2019.
The Spirit of our Concerts