Advancing disability rights and leadership globally®

Musical Performance at the Shedd Institute


On December 9, 2019, three collaborating MacArthur Fellows – two world-class musicians and a disability rights activist – presented a musical piece celebrating disabled women leaders.

“The evening’s gorgeous blend of passion and commitment was a truly wonderful gift.” – Bonnie Richman, Eugene resident.

Read the full Opinion piece on the Register Guard website.

What happens when three recipients of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship (sometimes referred to as the MacArthur Genius Grant) collaborate to create a new musical paradigm of activism, artistry and creativity to amplify the voices of disabled women activists globally, through the power of music and story-telling?

In 2019, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation ( awarded an X-Grant to Mobility International USA (MIUSA) to fund a collaboration among three MacArthur Fellows: Susan Sygall, a disability rights activist; Claire Chase, a world-renowned flutist; and Reginald Robinson, a composer, educator and pianist. The culminating piece was premiered at a free public event held in a concert venue in Eugene, Oregon in December 2019.

Claire Chase, hailed as “the most important flutist of our time” by the New York Times, has given the world premieres of hundreds of new works for the flute in performances throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia, and she has championed new music throughout the world by building organizations, forming alliances, pioneering commissioning initiatives and supporting educational programs that reach new audiences. Learn more about Ms. Chase at

Pianist and composer Reginald Robinson is an internationally recognized pianist, recording artist and educator. Mr. Robinson lectures at colleges across the United States and collects and preserves historical materials related to ragtime and African American classical music. His website is

Susan Sygall, a longtime resident of Eugene, is a disability rights activist who is the CEO and co-founder of Mobility International USA, a non-profit organization working to advance the rights and leadership of people with disabilities globally. She is the co-editor of Brilliant and Resilient: Celebrating the Power of Disabled Women Activists, which later become a traveling photo exhibition.

Ms. Sygall wrote the narrative based on her work with disabled women activists globally; Ms. Chase performed both new and existing repertoire by Mr. Robinson, collaboratively bringing the narrative to life in new musical forms. This event was Mr. Robinson’s and Ms. Chase’s first performance in Eugene.

Participants of the Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD) contributed by sending pictures, comments and ideas for this performance, which incorporated many of their messages, ideas, dreams and challenges. Music and narration was layered with powerful portraits of WILD participants from the Brilliant and Resilient photo exhibit.

The event welcomed performing arts aficionados, students, musicians, activists and academics. The event included and question answer time with the three Fellows as well as a reception following the performance.

A video recording of the production is expected to be available in April 2020 and available in multiple accessible formats, in English and Spanish.

Event Details

  • Date: Monday December 9, 2019
  • Time: The performance and Q&A took place from 7-8:30pm; a reception followed
  • Venue: The Shedd Institute, 868 High St, Eugene, OR 97401
  • Accessibility: The event provided sign language interpretation and live transcription in a wheelchair accessible venue equipped with a hearing loop system.
  • Ticketing: Tickets to this event were free and arranged throught the Shedd’s ticket office.

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The National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange is a project of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, designed to increase the participation of people with disabilities in international exchange between the United States and other countries, and is supported in its implementation by Mobility International USA.

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