Letters: Alsop, Mentally Ill Siblings

Many listeners were left blushing after Scott Simon's most recent interview with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Conductor Marin Alsop. Others were moved after hearing a report on how siblings are affected by their mentally ill brothers and sisters.

JOHN YDSTIE, host:

Time now for your letters.

(Soundbite of music)

YDSTIE: Many listeners were left blushing after Scott Simon's most recent interview with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra conductor Marin Alsop. They discussed Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade" and the musical and romantic levels to which it soared.

Ms. MARIN ALSOP (Conductor, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra): This is romance, really, at its height but, of course, like everything, it's worth waiting for.

(Soundbite of "Scheherazade")

YDSTIE: Steven Sally(ph) of Orlando, Florida, spoke for many when he wrote, wow, what a shock to hear an urbane and witty discussion of a piece I had relegated to the dustbin of overexposed musical pieces. My congratulations to Ms. Alsop, in particular, for rescuing delicate double entendres for genteel conversation. I will never again hear, it was good for me, how was it for you, without a silent nod to Maestro Alsop.

But far more listeners were moved to write after hearing a report by Karen Brown of American Radio Works on how siblings are affected by their mentally ill brothers and sisters. Among them was Joyce Kravitz(ph) of Philadelphia.

As the surviving sister of a brother who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, she writes, I know too well the guilt, resentment and responsibility that we, who live with a mentally ill sibling, cope with day after day. Today, 40 years after my brother was diagnosed and nine years after he passed away, I'm able to admit that it was his illness that helped me become a more empathetic and sympathetic person. Unfortunately, I never told him that. And unfortunately, I don't remember treating him with much empathy or sympathy. Now that is the regret I live with everyday.

And Keri Elkins(ph) of Bremerton, Washington, wrote, I have grown up with a bipolar sister for the past 29 years. She is my only sister, so I really have no concept of what it means to be a sibling as her illness has always been an obstacle for us as sisters. For so many years, I assumed I was the only sibling out there who had such torn feelings over being the well child. At age 30, I'm finally mature enough to realize I cannot change people's perceptions of my sister, and that I am no longer in danger of waking up one morning with the bipolar illness. It had been a fear I thought only I had until I heard your story.

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(Soundbite of music)

YDSTIE: This is NPR News.

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