Rebecca Hartka

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Cellomedicine honors the potential for music to flow over boundaries and go straight to the heart of our humanity. As the merging of my love for music, cross cultural connection, ceremony and nature, my intention with this work is to create an auditory space that invites all aspects of our collective experience to be held in community. While live performance is ceremonial by design, cellomedicine expands this potential, whether for expansive joy, building bridges across cultures, or deepening our relationship with our non-human relations.

Rebecca Hartka cellomedicine drawing

My childhood years instilled in me a love for nature, culture and ceremony. My education at the Hawthorn Valley Waldorf school in rural NY was filled with the magic of a spiritually minded community who honored the seasons. I spent my childhood creating art, hearing mythical stories, and wandering free in the hills and streams near my house, developing a lasting bond with the natural and imaginal worlds. Our closest neighbors where Ecuadorian on the one side and Mohawk on the other, and often we had traditional Andean musicians play at our neighborhood bonfire parties while we danced together. With both parents extremely creative consciousness explorers, meditators and former yoga teachers, I was encouraged to feel deeply into my emotional and expressive worlds.

Stylistic Versatility
The music of Bach, Brahms and others of the Western cannon provide a place of emotional solace for me, while latin American styles resonate deeply with my sense of belonging and identity as an American. I cherish my many hours spent in devotion to embodied mastery on the cello, yet have never limited this exploration to Western Art Music. At Oberlin Conservatory I took non-required courses in African American Music History, West African Dance in Diaspora (where we had live drumming for each class), Ethnomusicology and Psychology. I studied improvisation and folk styles in courses at the Berklee School of Music and at summer festivals such a String Fling while in my masters and doctorate studies in Boston. In collaboration with Cuban American guitarist Jose Lezcano, I have continued to broaden my expression of a variety of latin American styles including tango and Brazilian choros and samba.

Reconnecting With Nature
ceremonial plant healing landscape mandala Inspired by the urgency of a mounting ecological crisis, and a sense of soul searching as a collective, I have felt called to be of service in an expanded way. While I have always actively celebrated nature through honoring the seasons and moon phases, I have been in the process of reclaiming a sense of magic and ceremony in my music and beyond. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to take a year long class in Ceremonial Plant Healing with herbalist Tonya Lemos and to spend time with healers in the Maya community in Mexico. These studies have reignited my sense of the world as animate and vibrant, something I had forgotten during my many years in the academic world.

Rebecca Hartka playing cello in the woods Out of all this exploration has emerged an expanded sense of my role as a musician, the belief that as creators we can provide a space that exists somewhere between the physical world and the world beyond. I have begun to experiment with improvising with, for example, trees and the ocean, to see what music emerges in my reaching towards nature, and nature reaching towards me. I have begun to explore music making in venues such as yoga studios and in collaboration with acupuncturists and other healers.

Cross Cultural Bridge Building and Ancestral Healing
ceremonial plants and instruments I have found myself feeling grief for how my ancestors were disconnected from their earth centered traditions, and been called to research with compassionate non-denial how they brought this wound to the new world through acts of genocide. I have also honored the ancestors who circled beneath the branches of oaks, and knew how to treat with herbs. In this time of reckoning with systemic racism and our American history of genocide and slavery, it has been deeply satisfying to contribute in what way I can towards reparations and equality. Bringing a cello and supplies to Cuba, utilizing the power of music to build bridges across culture in concerts in Vietnam and Mexico, and most recently a video project that raised money towards the Schaghticoke First Nations Land Reclamation Project. As ell, I am devoted to stylistic diversity in my music making, and performing works with and by underrepresented communities.

The thousands of concerts I have given as a professional cellist have confirmed my instinct that live performance as an expression of ceremony. My intention in the concert hall has always been to hold a compassionate space for the whole range of human experience that music reveals. Cellomedicine takes this intention into our relationship with the natural world, and into spaces where community is specifically holding an intention towards reclaiming wholeness. I know my journey has just begun and I hope we will share it together.

Rebecca Hartka playing cello with Egilio at his home in Yucatán

Rebecca Hartka with musical group Box Balam after concert in Yucatán

Duo Deja Vu and film production crew

Lorenzo with roses

Thank you to my many friends, family and teachers who have supported this expansion.

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Rebecca Hartka with Linda Hartka Rebecca Hartka with Egilio after concert in Yucatán