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Concerts explore various sides of conflict through music

Sept. 23, 2003

By Jessi Study, reporter

Baylor students and faculty can enjoy a fresh blend of music and history in a four-day concert series called 'Music Speaks: War, Resistance, Reconciliation, and Hope' running from Monday to Thursday. Each program will explore themes of war, resistance, reconciliation and hope through music, poetry and reflective commentary.

The concert series is the Baylor School of Music's first opportunity to hold a concert in collaboration with the Center for American and Jewish Studies.

'We are trying to reach out to other departments as well as students by using different types of music, placing them in historical, literary and political contexts and examining how they relate to today's society,' Laurel Zeiss, assistant professor of music, said.

Clara Takarabe, visiting musician and organizer of the Music Speaks concert, inspired the music series and will play the viola in the concert. Her experience as a music teacher in Israel relates to the Jewish-Christian-Muslim theme of the concerts and how music ties into war and hope.

Takarabe played in the Chicago Symphony but said she wanted to do something more faithful and productive. She decided to move to the West Bank of Ramallah where a school needed a music teacher. During her time there, enemies would bomb the town.

'Then things just kept getting worse,' Takarabe said. 'Enemies would attack and stay in Ramallah, and the town would be held under curfew. By curfew I don't mean be in your house by 11:00. By curfew, I mean if you leave your front door you will get shot. The curfew would continue for months at a time, and I could not leave the house to teach.' When Takarabe returned to Chicago, she said she was troubled about what to do next. After reading Unholy Alliances by Dr. Marc Ellis, a Baylor professor and director of the American and Jewish Studies program, Takarabe wrote to him, and he responded by asking her to speak at a genocide conference in Chicago.

'Through my friendship with Dr. Ellis, I came to Baylor and based the music series on these experiences,' Takarabe said.

The Music Speaks series opens at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 22 in Mary Gibbs Jones Concert Hall with musicians playing Mozart and Beethoven as well as a piece by Joseph Schwantner. At 7:30 p.m. Sept. 23 in Miller Chapel, a program called 'In Poetry and Song,' performed by the Baylor Opera Theatre, Baylor music students and faculty, will include works by Charles Ives, Kurt Weill and Francis Poulenc along with an analysis and excerpts from Mozart's opera 'Die Entf-hrung aus dem Serail.'

At 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 24 in Harvey Garden of Moody Memorial Library, 'Music As Food For The Soul' will combine music and poetry. Students will play a brass ensemble, string quartet and woodwind quintet followed by poetry readings. The first poetry reading relates tto the Holocaust, and the second poem says music can uplift and inspire people.

Smaller ensembles using stringed instruments and vocals express the restlessness of society before World War II. The performance 'Intimate Conversations: Chamber Music Speaks' will be held at 6 p.m. on Sept. 25 in Armstrong Browning Library. The music will feature the Baylor String Quartet, playing Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich's songs, which were written about how and why World War II began.

'Music takes us out of our ordinary everyday self,' Zeiss said. 'Arts of all kinds help us temporarily experience things from another perspective. Music provides insights into our own emotions our values and those of other people. It helps us think about our lives in a new and fresh way.'

The concerts are open to the public and free of charge. For more information, call the School of Music at 710-3991.

The four-day concert will continue into the weekend with A People of the Book Rosh Hashana Retreat on Sept. 26 to Sept. 27 at the Three Mountain Retreat Center in Clifton.

'People of the Book is a student-led organization that brings Christians, Muslims and Jews together to talk about their respective scriptures,' Spencer Holleman, a graduate assistant of Dr. Marc Ellis, said. 'Students discuss such topics as their traditions' conception of warfare, women and worship. In this same spirit, the retreat will emphasize student interaction with the visiting guests and with one another.'

Presenters will include Rabbi Paula Reimers, Dr. Jon Singletary and Hedab El-Tarifi. Special guest will be Father Gustavo Gutierrez who will be celebrating his 75th birthday. Online registration for the retreat is available at, and the cost is $20 for Baylor students.