About the Director
Judith Eissenberg, Founder and Director, MusicUnitesUS
MusicUnitesUS Founder and Director
(photograph by Jonathan Barber)
The vision for this project started to take shape after 9/11. I was listening to a discussion about Gandhi and heard a quote that went something like this: “where there is violence, look for injustice.” That has stayed in my mind and it has become a sort of life raft of hope for me. I knew I needed to understand more about the world, to broaden my perspective as a white, middle class, educated American woman. The possibility that a deeper understanding of diverse worldviews might clear the way for justice to prevail became a beacon to me.My life’s work has been in music. I have found that music can be personally expressive as well as a common medium across cultures. My goal in this project is to deepen understanding and appreciation of the many cultures and traditions that make up the global community. I believe that the arts can be a sort of vehicle by which we might dare to explore not just our shared appreciation of beauty, but our deepest divides. The arts encourage us to use our imagination and creativity in a collaborative and constructive process. The arts help us to express that which is most important to us, and help us to listen to what is expressed by others.
Nurturing an empathetic and critical understanding of the world is the central objective of MusicUnitesUS. I believe that the heart and the mind can achieve much more in conversation than either can achieve in isolation. New research in cognitive science points to the interactive connections between our emotions and our cognitive abilities. Decision-making is not just an objective exercise, but a complex weaving together of experience, knowledge, and emotions. The arts can serve to stimulate the ethical imagination as the dual impulses to know and to feel combine to form a mature empathetic understanding of the human condition.
The capacity to be both critical and empathetic, the willingness to be open to multiple perspectives, and the drive to express and create, are part of what I think of as artistic sensibility. It is with artistic sensibility that the artist and the historian, the dancer and the theoretician, the musician and the statesperson, and perhaps communities and peoples in conflict may work and create together. Hopefully, in time, we will together develop an artistic sensibility in all that we do, that may shed light on the difficult challenges that lay ahead.
Judith Eissenberg, violinist in the critically acclaimed Lydian String Quartet and Professor of the Practice in the music department, has been a member of the Brandeis University faculty since 1980. With the quartet, she has recorded and performed in the US and abroad as well as with other international artists and ensembles. She has taught people of all ages, in venues including universities, conservatories, high schools and grade schools, and presently is a member of the adjunct chamber music faculty at The Boston Conservatory. Ms. Eissenberg founded, co-directs and performs at Music From Salem, a music festival in New York which features internationally acclaimed performers from around the world, and whose mission includes diverse programming and education. She teaches and performs at various music festivals during the summers. She received her MM from Yale University School of Music in 1980, her BFA from SUNY, Purchase, and her initial licensure from the State of Massachusetts to teach Elementary 1-6 in 2003.