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From conservatoire to cinema – the cellist behind Todd Subject’s Tar


‘I completely nonetheless need to be a cellist’, Sophie Kauer laughs. Talking with the 21-year previous cellist in Dalston’s Crimson Hand bar, between East London’s inventive areas and pioneering music venues feels remarkably congruous. Her white cello case of hers is on the ground subsequent to us, however she decides to prop it up in sight as a substitute. ‘I get fairly paranoid after I cannot see it.’

The night time earlier than the UK premiere of Todd Subject’s newest movie, Tár, the thrill is tangible as we pour over the plans for tomorrow. Kauer shares the thrill with open arms: ‘Do you need to see the gown?’ She opens her telephone to indicate me the Giles Deacon beautiful ‘Cynge Robe’ of white cotton with a tulle skirt that she’ll put on on the pink carpet.

How is she feeling concerning the premiere? At the beginning is gratitude. To her de ella stylist and designer de ella, to everybody that is supported her via the film. Maybe essentially the most gratitude is for the movie’s Director, Todd Subject, who was instantly struck by Sophie when she despatched in her self-tapes in direction of the top of the casting course of:

‘He is such a sort, humble and considerate human being’, she tells me, describing the very first day of filming, having by no means walked to a cue or acted in entrance of a movie digicam earlier than. ‘There was lots of belief developed early on- we did not have the time to do a great deal of takes, so I needed to go for it and belief that if he did not like one thing, he would say. Todd additionally took me via the backstory, serving to me to grasp what my character was feeling and why he wrote her the best way he did.’

It has been three years since I final noticed Kauer. In that point she has been a pandemic, she’s discovered Norwegian, moved to Oslo and brought on the function as a cellist in Tár, her debut performing function of her alongside Cate Blanchett. Our lives overlapped via studying cello with Melissa Phelps and considering again to that point, I will always remember Kauer aged 15, being so honest, variety and devoted to the cello – by no means failing to faucet into the power and potential of its sound.

Sophie Kauer will not let her cello out of her sight (Photograph: Michael Shelford)

Kauer’s character, Olga, enters a high Berlin orchestra as a trial member, a younger cellist from Russia with brown hair, a flippant perspective to life and a comical means of interacting with the severity of Blanchett’s character, Lydia Tár. Olga is much from the cellist I do know in Kauer, demonstrating her unimaginable potential to enter into a personality’s psyche and never solely act, however play the cello in a special thoughts, proven within the movie’s dwell recording of the Elgar Cello Concerto.

She explains how typically musicians are advised to ‘put themselves into the music’, however this wasn’t the case in Tár: ‘The toughest half was studying to play the cello like another person. Todd Subject is a musician himself so he had a really clear concept of ​​how Olga would play. She’s Russian and fairly light-hearted and impolite, so fascinated about how the character would play was actually difficult.’

A possibility to showcase her personal musical voice within the Elgar got here via the TÁR Idea Album launched on Deutsche Grammophon. Lydia Tár recreates the album cowl from the DG recording of Claudio Abbado’s Mahler 5 and on the idea album we hear the end result of the extraordinary weeks main as much as the recording.

Kauer’s contribution to the album contains the fourth motion from Elgar’s Cello Concerto, alongside a bit from the primary motion and a few further conversations from the recording session. Recorded final yr at Abbey Highway with the London Symphony Orchestra and Natalie Murray-Beale, Kauer remarks on how ‘surreal’ that have was on the age of 20. I requested her concerning the goal was with recording an idea album: ‘The thought behind the album was to offer an perception into what a recording session is like. Within the movie, you by no means hear a live performance, solely rehearsals, and the soundtrack is combined in very low – it is meant to really feel like a mosquito on the wall that is current however you do not fairly know the place it’s.

‘Cello continues to be what I really like most. However I additionally do not need to be boxed-in and advised that it is all I might be’

‘I actually like that they needed to make the album a snapshot into what it is prefer to file, as a result of individuals typically do not know the way it works. It was additionally the primary time I’ve ever accomplished a recording like that and the primary time I’ve performed with knowledgeable orchestra aside from the scenes I had with the Dresden Philharmonie within the movie.’

Balancing the movie’s commitments together with her continued research on the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo with Torleif Thedéen is not any imply feat. Maybe it’s attainable as a result of that is a lot a part of Kauer’s vocation of her, as a cellist, speaker and advocate for the artwork type that she is so incessantly misunderstood. The place is the cello sitting now despite such success in performing? ‘Cello continues to be what I really like most. However I additionally do not need to be boxed-in and advised that it is all I might be.’

It isn’t an unusual story, feeling that being a musician could also be all you are ‘allowed’ to be. Each of us replicate that we do not know every other musicians with an performing profession alongside. To not say it would not occur, however Sophie is obvious that engaged on the movie mixed so lots of her passions. ‘I’ve all the time been fascinated by the emotional life of individuals and had a love of languages- It is wholesome to consider your self as greater than a musician.’

Tár is Sophie Kauer’s debut performing function (Photograph: Michael Shelford)

She nonetheless will not let the movie’s commitments get in the best way of follow, ‘Once I do not follow, or have lots of the press stuff happening, it feels a bit like not respiration. Nonetheless, there are points that I actually care about round classical music together with making an attempt to take away among the stigma surrounding it. If I will assist in any means via talking, it is value lacking a day of follow for that.’

‘I need to present folks that musicians’ voices are legitimate, however a part of my having the ability to do that’s I’ve needed to begin setting clear boundaries. For instance, after I’m at school I lock my telephone in a locker so I can concentrate on follow! One other results of having had a lot happening is that I’ve additionally found that it is alright to ask for assist, and necessary to know the individuals you may attain out to and belief.’

Talking about this movie means going through inevitably uncomfortable conversations concerning the themes of abuse, manipulation and narcissism that run all through. Kauer is just not shy to talk about this and adamant that she makes use of her voice de ella to indicate each the gorgeous, in addition to the sadly poisonous parts of industries equivalent to ours.

‘This movie might have been set in any business’ she tells me – an necessary reminder that abuse of energy is discovered in all places – ‘This situation is one typically related to male energy dynamics. One of many causes Todd selected the world of classical music is as a result of being a conductor may be very a lot inside a pyramid construction, and there aren’t many different locations the place a boss has that type of energy.’

‘I all the time really feel like I develop most exterior of my consolation zone’

There have been questions on whether or not the movie depicts feminine conductors as an entire in a unfavorable gentle. In a world the place it’s no imply feat to face on the rostrum as a minority, maybe this might be an comprehensible response. Kauer’s take is decidedly balanced: ‘I did not take into consideration the sexuality or gender of the primary character being the main focus. I discover it fascinating that Todd casts the primary character as a girl, but it surely’s virtually irrelevant. However because the current ISM research highlighted, sexism, bullying and racism are nonetheless very current within the classical music business, so I am glad the movie is shining a lightweight on these points. An important factor is altering the skin world’s view of classical music itself.’

And the long run? Kauer smiles: ‘I in all probability cannot say an excessive amount of’. For the instant future, she was thrilled that her dad and mom and sister of hers have been in a position to attend the premiere. ‘You may say that I’m trying ahead to a summer time of enjoying at festivals!’

Is there something that Sophie misses about being ‘simply’ a music scholar? Once more, gratitude emerges because the overriding emotion: ‘The movie pushed me to develop my performing mindset – I do not suppose I’d have sorted it out that rapidly and I believe I may need felt a bit caught if I spent my entire bachelors in a follow room. I’ve much more methods now if I get nervous.’

‘In fact typically I believe it may need been good to have it occur a bit later, however I actually beloved going for it. I all the time really feel like I develop most exterior of my consolation zone.’

Tár is out now in UK cinemas

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