2017-2018 Luce Scholar

Central Conservatory of Music

A national center of music education, composition, performance and research, the Central Conservatory of Music is a world-renowned institute of music that represents the highest caliber of music education in China, offering a comprehensive range of specialized programs. A cello performer as well as a student of history, anthropology and ethnomusicology, Benjamin “Benji” Fleischacker will explore China’s musical landscape under the direction of Professor Pan Lan, deputy chair of the Department of Musicology, and Dai Bo, a composer at the Central Conservatory.

For reasons he can’t remember, Benji Fleischacker requested a cello from his parents at the early age of six. Since then, he has devoted himself to studying the instrument in orchestras, chamber music and solo performance. Before college, Benji spent a year teaching cello at a music school in Costa Rica, where he developed both a love of teaching and a recognition of the many musical traditions that children bring to the music classroom. Benji will graduate from Yale in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in History, concentrating in Latin American history. Aside from his academic interest in the discipline of history, he hopes to use the context of Latin American social history to develop a music curriculum that better takes into account the backgrounds and cultures of music students.

In college, Benji was principal cellist for the Yale Symphony Orchestra, an avid chamber musician, and the business manager and a member of the all-cello rock band Low Strung, for which he arranged original covers of popular music. He pursues his interest in expanding the scope of classical music by performing in contemporary ensembles and premiering student compositions. In March 2017, he premiered a suite of seven pieces, based on the Bach cello suites, which he commissioned from composers at Yale. Benji performed original research in Costa Rica on the national music education program for which he taught in 2012. Interviews with government officials, program directors, professional musicians, students enrolled in the program and their families demonstrated the discursive limits of classical music education. Benji hopes to bring a global perspective to the challenge classical music poses to local traditions, and the opportunities communities have to expand their culture through music education and performance.