Musician/Actor Sophie Kauer Thought ‘Tár’ Would Be a Great Way to Showcase the Emotion of Classical Music

As a young Russian cellist in Todd Field’s “Tár,” British musician Sophie Kauer steals her scenes with the formidable Cate Blanchett, playing the equally formidable superstar conductor Lydia Tár. It’s hard to believe that this is her first acting gig, but the 21-year-old musician dove into the character of Olga, an emerging talent who catches the predatory eye of Lydia, and brings street smarts honed by, well, just being a young adult raised on social media, ambition, a knowledge of her own worth and passion for the music. Olga is part of Lydia’s downfall in the film. In real life, Kauer is still a student, currently studying in Sweden.

What drew you to this role?  I saw the casting call in February 2021. This was the lowest point we had — everything was closed. Concerts had stopped. We really had almost no subjects at school. We were all just home alone. I hadn’t had a cello lesson — like an in-person lesson — in a year and a half because my teacher lives in Sweden and at that point the borders were closed. I didn’t go into the casting call with any expectations at all. I just thought it was really cool.

So what did you think when you got the role? Music was absolutely at its lowest point and no one really knew when it was going to come back to its full strengths, and so I thought this film would be an amazing way to bring classical music to the attention of a whole new audience.

Was it exciting to actually have a film about your world of classical music? I think I reached a lot more people than I would through any other kind of event.  I wanted to be able to destigmatize classical music. I know it’s not a science fiction film or a film about an athlete. But for people not in this world, there’s a tendency to think that classical music is really inaccessible, and that if you don’t understand every single chord that you can’t enjoy it, which is not the case at all. It’s just emotion that just gets you, right? And that’s the whole point. The whole point of music is to move you to convey emotion and you don’t need to understand everything about it.

Like I don’t understand the mechanics of space travel but I love “Star Wars.” Just like you don’t have to understand everything an astronaut says to know that they really know what they’re doing. [In Todd Field’s script] there’s so many details kind of built as well so precisely and perfectly because he just wanted to show that Lydia knows her stuff, and that is her habitat. All that work and effort and hours that goes into being such a skilled conductor. I just thought that this would be a really lovely way to show that classical music is still a relevant art form, and that it’s something that real people dedicate their lives to, but also talk about things that I think you know, maybe need a little shove in the right direction in
our industry.

Was it intimidating working with that cast? I mean, I’m at the filming location and she holds her hand out and says, “Hi, I’m Cate.” And I’m just like, I grew up seeing her on my TV screen [laughs]. I remember, the first time I met her and then had to have a rehearsal so she could practice conducting, so it was like, mildly terrifying, but I soon learned that she’s one of the loveliest and most talented and incredibly supportive people on the planet, you know, and it was an amazing experience to work with her.

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