Music by and for people living with cancer


Music soothes the troubled spirit. This simple truth, familiar to us all, is what drove Wellspring, a network of cancer support centres, to commission a CD of original orchestral music inspired by the stories of four cancer survivors. River- Journey To Wellspring, was launched before an audience of 600 at the historic Grand Theatre in London, Ontario on May 25th, 2003. On stage was a 34-piece orchestra with vocalists, conducted by composer Jeff Christmas and assembled from regional orchestras by producer, Louise Fagan. At the conclusion of the 30-minute performance, the theatre remained suspended in silence for a few electric moments before erupting into a standing ovation. That River had “got it right” was further demonstrated at the following reception, where audience members exuberantly expressed their appreciation and admiration for its transporting beauty.

First conceived by Wellspring London and Region’s Executive Director, Shelley Markland, whose own cancer diagnosis ten years ago led her to seek inspiration and solace from music, River-Journey To Wellspring contains 10 related works like chapters in a book, each portraying an emotional facet of life with cancer. Jeff and Louise were both new to this world. Yet their ability to hear the stories told by “The Quartet” – Lucy, Marilyn, John and Scott – of their resolute journeys through diagnosis, treatment, recurrence and decision to not look back, is reflected in each note. The music is at once dark, light, tentative, forceful, nuanced and transparent. Its intent is to offer some inspiration and comfort to those setting out on a long and treacherous journey, its meaning perhaps obscured and its endpoint unknown. The artwork for the cover of the CD vividly captures this journey. First interpreted in separate images by The Quartet, it was further developed into a painting by Wanda Sawicki, Wellspring London and Region’s art therapist, which is proudly displayed in their facility.

Under the terms of the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s grant of $49,500 for production and promotion, half of the 3,000 copies from the first pressing are to be given free to people living with cancer, either directly or through a professional or volunteer cancer care provider. The other half are to be sold at $25.00 per copy, postage and taxes included, with proceeds directed to Wellspring programs. A copy of the CD jacket artwork may be purchased for $10.00.

With the help of an interview following the launch by CBC Radio’s national program, “The Current”, the CD and the poster have found their way to across Ontario and other provinces.

For further information about Wellspring, whose programs and services are provided free of charge, please see

To enquire about or order a copy of River-Journey To Wellspring, please call:

Wellspring London and Region
231 Hyman Street
London, Ontario N6A 1N6
(519) 438 7379

Wellspring -Odette House and The Coach House
81 Wellesley Street East
Toronto, Ontario
M4Y 1H6
(416) 961 1928

Wellspring – Sunnybrook & Women’s
2075 Bayview Ave.
Toronto, Ontario
(416) 480 4440

Wellspring Halton Peel
2545 Sixth Line
Oakville, Ontario
L6J 4Z4
(905) 257-1988

Wellspring Niagara
3-3250 Schmon Parkway
Thorold, Ontario
L2V 4Y6
(888) 707-1277