Professor Schnauber Presents Final Installment of Memory of Trauma Lecture Series
November 22, 2010
Chair of Emmanuel's Performing Arts Department Professor Thomas Schnauber presented "When Words Fail: Music as an Expression of Trauma," the final installment of the "The Memory of Trauma and the Trauma of Memory. The Spanish Civil War and its Aftermath. Insights for Spain and Beyond" lecture series, on November 15th.
Schnauber focused his lecture on the use of music as a means of expressing feelings about a traumatic experience. People who experience trauma often find that words are not enough. Sometimes they turn to art to express that which they cannot express verbally. Music, whether wordless or supporting lyrics, is an art that transcends words by evoking emotion through sonic metaphor. Its power can be direct and visceral, both for the music makers and the listeners.
"With words, the more general meaning can get lost," said Schnauber. "Music seems to bypass a lot of that. You have a direct line to emotions and feelings that you may miss with just talking."
Schnauber discussed the life of Chilean musician Quique Cruz as an example of someone who used music as an escape. He was imprisoned by the Pinochet government in the 1970s and was tortured and humiliated for many months. In the years that followed, Cruz worked through his trauma by writing music, culminating in a suite of songs and instrumental works. Schnauber presented excerpts from "The Archeology of Memory: Villa Grimaldi," a film that documents Cruz's experiences, his use of music to work through the trauma, and the dramatic performance in Chile that resulted.
Schnauber holds a Ph.D. in composition and music theory from the University of Michigan. He has also studied French horn performance, ethnomusicology, and did a small stint in Hollywood scoring films. A versatile composer, Schnauber enjoys writing for a variety of ensembles, including unaccompanied instruments, chamber ensembles, solo voice and vocal ensembles, string orchestra, percussion ensemble, symphony orchestra, and various theatrical and musical productions. A member of Composers in Red Sneakers and a co-founder of the arts organization WordSong, his music has been performed throughout the United States and Europe.
"The Memory of Trauma and the Trauma of Memory: The Spanish Civil War and its Aftermath-Insights for Spain and Beyond" lecture series is organized by Emmanuel's Department of Foreign Languages with the support of the Spanish Consulate at Boston.