In classical music, the viola often plays accompaniment parts, adding depth and richness to the melody. From time to time, however, the instrument steps into the soloist position. In short, its role is dependent on context. As a musician, it’s much the same with teaching and performing, says Angela Kratchmer ’13. Sometimes you lead and other times you support. “It’s a little different in every context, and in order to be effective, it’s critical to identify the context accurately.”
Kratchmer should know. A music major at Luther, she earned a master’s degree in viola performance from the Eastman School of Music in 2016 and recently completed a nine-month tour as a member of the 2018 cohort of the Global Leaders Program. In this immersive initiative, 36 young musicians from around the world participate in three residencies, studying social justice, cultural agency, artistry, and social entrepreneurship through the lens of music and arts education. Kratchmer’s program led her to Chile, Paraguay, and Tanzania. “In Chile, I taught as a guest artist at a conservatory. In Paraguay, I led master classes to students of varied abilities in three different cities. And in Tanzania, I was an ambassador for the violin and viola, essentially giving the instruments exposure, as there’s not much of a classical music scene there at present.”
The experiences had a profound impact on Kratchmer. In fact, she says, her participation in the program has shaped her path for the future. “There’s a growing realization that the elitist model for the arts is no longer viable—people are looking at the function of art within a culture and realizing that the arts should serve everyone rather than just a select few,” she explains. “There’s much more focus on integrating art into everyday life.” And thanks to her experiences in the Global Leaders Program, Kratchmer more fully appreciates the impact that the arts can have on people’s lives. Musicians are also realizing that they don’t have to choose between being only performers or teachers, she says. “That dichotomy is going away in favor of a more fluid identity—we’re realizing we can also be activists and entrepreneurs.”
Kratchmer has embraced the message. This fall, she begins work on her doctor of musical arts degree, with a music business minor, at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. In the meantime, she is continuing her music outreach. She spent the month of June working as an administrator for Luther’s International Music Festival of the Adriatic, a summer chamber music festival for strings, piano, voice, and composition held annually in Duino, Italy. It’s a program Kratchmer first participated in as a student in 2013, shortly after graduating from Luther, and she is delighted to contribute to its growth.
“I know it sounds like a cliché, but I’m very grateful for the liberal arts education I received at Luther—it’s been incredibly valuable,” Kratchmer says. “Many music students go to the conservatory and spend untold hours practicing, and as a result, they don’t have an opportunity to develop their whole knowledge base. But at Luther, I received a well-rounded education. I took courses in religion, history, science, and math, all of which helped me to see the arts in a larger context and understand why they matter. Now my goal is to share that knowledge with others.”