As a musician, faculty member Clara Takarabe (violin / viola) performs regularly with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. However, her talents also extend in other directions. Takarabe is a published author and a thinker in the fields of labor theory, art theory and public sphere theory, is a resident philosopher in a neurology department and laboratory, is a member of the Labor Education Commission of a new national musicians union in the United States, and her musical research has been featured in the Wall Street journal and on NBC nightly news. In addition to all this, Clara Takarabe is dedicated to combating inequality, worked with Daniel Barenboim when establishing the praised project “Divan East-West” that unites Arab and Israeli musicians, also teaching in Palestine. In her visits to FEMUSC, in addition to teaching and performing at concerts, Clara Takarabe showed concern for the philosophical preparation of the student body, and thus a series of lectures and discussions on the non-musical universe of the study of music was born. In her own words:
“In the world of classical music, there are many missing conversations—conversations that critically need to happen, but do not happen within the confines of masterclasses and lessons. Some say practicing is all we need to do but that is absolutely wrong. We need to learn about the many realities of our field and find ways to wield power. Many students are fearful, feeling powerless, feeling like they have no place in this world. This lecture series is an entryway to discussing the myths within classical music, the challenges, the problems, new ways of problem solving and gaining power. Without the students gaining philosophical and intellectual power, they will not be able to be powerful in this troubled world where music is needed more than ever. I want students to be agents of change not just in the classical world itself, but to function in the wider public and be a critical part of making society a beautiful, gentler and care-oriented world.
The first lecture, “Touch and Sensibility” is about the challenges many musicians face in the growing stage of late adolescence and early adulthood–particularly problems in pedagogy, with professors, with oneself with depression and hopelessness. This lecture aims to reframe one’s own process of learning and to give the student more agency and power.
The second lecture, “I started late and now am older” –it is a reflection on the condition of many students who believe they have started late in life and are at a serious and perhaps fatal disadvantage to a life in music. Late starters have profound strengths. Run with them. With late starters, there is much hope. Late starters also see through the myths that exist in our field and have the power to fight them.
The third lecture, “On Musical Belonging: Solidarity as World-Building.” We often wonder as musicians, “where do we belong?” We sense precariousness, aloneness, vulnerability. We are unable to see how we will live. We face poverty. We face a world that says there is no possibility of employment, therefore barring us from a dignified life and a dignified place in society. We can fight this, we can build something better, but it is WE who must build this. This lecture is about building a world, building belonging, building care and support, and building solidarity.”
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