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A Musical Life: Rachel Phares

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Rachel Phares is a cellist, viola da gambist, and teacher in the Wichita area. She graduated with a degree in cello performance from Wichita State University in 2012. Though still an active gigging cellist, her current musical focus is with an early music group called the Ad Astra Consort, who dedicates its creative focus to spreading sweet Renaissance-style grooves around the area. She is interested in music and how it relates to human connection, books, and her dog.

My name is Rachel Phares. I play the cello and the viola da gamba in the Wichita area.

The thing that interests me most about music and motivates me as a musician is really the idea that music is a way to communicate with and relate to people.

That kind of communication is such an integral part of the human experience that it’s really satisfying as a performer and a listener when you can feel that kind of connection through the music. Even if it’s just for a moment.

There are so many reactions that music can illicit across all genres. Part of what makes the exchange between the performer and the audience so interesting and dynamic is because of that. It’s just shades of gray.

I think that even more than with classical music, music from the Renaissance time period—which is roughly between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries—tends to have a really small niche of listeners. The challenge, then, as a musician becomes then to prove to an audience that that universal truth—that music is a way to communicate and is innately relevant because of that—still applies and can always apply.

So, for us, it’s more than bringing back “obsolete” forms of music for the fun of it. It’s about exposing new audiences to this music.

If we’re able to relay any kind of musical message to our fellow human beings, then we’re all the better for it.

Jedd Beaudoin is host/producer of the nationally syndicated program Strange Currency. He has also served as an arts reporter, a producer of A Musical Life and a founding member of the KMUW Movie Club. As a music journalist, his work has appeared in Pop Matters, Vox, No Depression and Keyboard Magazine.