By Rebecca Jackson
On this first day of a new decade, I reflect on family, friends, life, gifts, music, and the journey to MiM. As a girl, I remember an immediate recognition of and instant attraction to the power of music. Some of my earliest musical memories are of my mom, Annette, taking my sister and me to play holiday tunes at assisted-care facilities for the elderly. I have vivid memories of watching sedate beings come to life, both in expression and exclamation, as they heard familiar songs. As a 16-year-old, while attending an 8-week intensive summer music camp and experiencing chamber music, my dreams of becoming a professional truly came alive. Unlike playing a solo or in an orchestra, everyone in a chamber ensemble has a unique and critically important voice. Without a conductor, the magic happens as each member contributes as well as listens and thoughtfully works alongside fellow musicians. As I moved into the professional world of music, my heart’s desire was to play chamber music. Just after graduating from Juilliard, I quit violin for an entire year. Feelings of overwhelm momentarily drowned out my heart. What brought me back to music was a project starting a violin program for music camps in Ukraine and Romania. Working with all the children and adults in different lands, where we only communicated through music (and a translator), I was filled with all the sensations I had felt as a 5-year-old child playing music with my sister and mom at the convalescent homes. I knew as I got back “on track”, that giving back the gifts of music must remain at the core of my career.
In 2006 I began dreaming up Music in May, very much inspired by my trips abroad. I wanted to create something that I love and believe in and share it with my hometown of Santa Cruz. I also wanted to share our lovely community with visiting guest artists. Stirring together chamber music at the highest level, bringing communities together, giving back, lots of help from others; voilà, in 2008, MiM was born.
There is a hot word in the community engagement world: “relevance.” In so many ways, classical music may not seem relevant anymore, not relevant to incarcerated youth, not relevant to students at schools where the majority are children of immigrant farmers, not relevant to families at a homeless center… As MiM has strengthened its outreach, our primary goal is to share beauty and build friendships by sharing gifts that I/we have been given through classical chamber music. This is just one beautiful gift in a world full of gifts which we hope opens the eyes, ears, minds, and hearts of every community we visit.
How incredible that, at our fingertips, music provides a vehicle to open doors and build bridges. As a girl, I always dreamed of marrying a diplomat. Though not quite what I had originally envisioned, through MiM, my dream has been fulfilled by allowing me to be a musical ambassador alongside other musicians and community members.