By Kasey Varga May 1, 2014
The EXA department is delighted to have Sharon Katz, MM/MT join us as visiting Core Faculty in the year that coincides with Nelson Mandela's release from prison 24 years ago, an event that CIIS is honoring with a number of concerts featuring great South African musicians via Public Programs.
Born in Port Elizabeth, now known as Nelson Mandela Bay, South Africa Sharon was exposed to the painful era of apartheid during her teen years. In 1992 Sharon brought together 500 individuals (mostly children) to form the country's first-ever, multi-cultural and multi-lingual performing group and rocked the nation with a concert so powerful that she was invited to perform all over the country.
Sharon took 150 performers, including her friends Ladysmith Black Mambazo, on tour by train, giving concerts at every stop along their route. They encouraged people of all races, cultures, ages and political affiliations to put down their guns and hostilities and to prepare for the country's transition to a peaceful democracy. The performing group became known as The Peace Train forever more, and the world watched as Nelson Mandela became South Africa's first democratically elected President a few months later. The experience is being made into a film, When Voices Meet documenting the trials, tribulations and triumphs of those musician activists and young choir members.
Not only has Sharon used her music therapy techniques to help heal South Africa from apartheid, she's worked in other trouble spots around the world, earning her a reputation for converting "gang members in to band members."
Having studied English, African Government and Law in South Africa and Music/Music Therapy in London and the US, Sharon has practiced as a music therapist, educator, social activist, performer and conflict resolution consultant since 1983 working in prisons, schools, universities, mental health facilities, drug & alcohol rehabilitation centers, youth empowerment projects, HIV/AIDS orphanages, and community development programs.
Sharon will be teaching Therapeutic Communication, Arts in Therapy and offering two Advanced Seminars: Music Therapy and Practicum and Improvisation, and Composition and Song Writing in Therapy. She will also be leading a workshop entitled Music and Dance for Social Change in South Africa and Beyond. Additionally, she will be doing some work with our community partners at Glide and Contra Costa County Regional Health.
We are so thrilled to offer this opportunity to our students and community members. Join us in a warm welcome to Sharon Katz!