Born in 1956 in Washington, D.C. to a French father and American mother, Michèle is from a musical and intercultural home as her papa was a composer and her mother, a singer. She grew up in Northern Virginia in the beautiful green woods not far from George Washington’s Mount Vernon and the Potomac River. Her neighborhood was middle-class, but 5 minutes away there was a very poor, exclusively black quarter where a wonderful woman lived, who was her nanny that cleaned her home regularly. – The riots which ensued after the murder of Martin Luther King touched this peaceful quarter, and deeply impacted Michèle’s psychology. Also, her nanny stopped coming at some point…
While surrounded by music, art, literature, philosophy and culture from a multitude of places on the planet thanks to cosmopolitan parents, she wanted to absorb everything. Her father was featured in TIME magazine in 1956, the year of her birth. And as a baby she met great artists, such as Arthur Rubenstein who asked her father to write a piece for piano, or Leopold Stokowski, who conducted her father’s work for orchestra titled ATALA in 1958.
At 10 Michèle experienced the shock of her parents separating and her father leaving their home, where he had planted a multitude of roses and azaleas. Michèle’s paradise. But he did not leave before giving her a clarinet, and Michèle’s first music lesson under their large crabapple tree.
A painful period of self-searching ensued, until in 1973-74 Michèle attended her first year of a Music Conservatory in Manassas, Virginia, where she explored her clarinet more deeply. This paid off, as she was finalist in the annual concerto competition performing Claude Debussy’s Premiere Rhapsodie pour Orchestra et Clarinette. She began learning flute as well, and played her tenor saxophone a bit in the conservatory’s jazz band. (By the way, as Michèle could not improvise, her solos were always written out in advance).
Later Michèle would attend two more years in the music school of Catholic University. But she never managed to complete her schooling and receive the deeply-desired degree in music performance. Yet, she discovered another mission in life after being introduced to the Soka Movement of Nichiren Buddhism in 1974, now a U.N. NGO, referred to as Soka Gakkai International (SGI).
A few years later, Michèle began working as the Bureau Chief’s assistant in the largest Japanese financial-business newspaper NIKKEI, in their Wash, DC office. This gave her opportunities to learn the world of journalism as well as discover the White House, the US Capitol and government agencies, touching on all aspects of social, cultural and political news.
In 1986, Michèle moved to Tokyo, Japan and continued working for NIKKEI, and began publishing her own articles in their English-language version (The Japan Economic Journal at the time). She also published independently in The Japan Times, Mainichi Daily News, and the Asahi Evening News on such subjects as Soka pedagogy in humanistic education, Child care in Japan, and United Nations reform. — It was also during this time Michèle decided to write on Intercultural Communications, thanks to her Japanese boss who often remarked she had a habit of talking about culture shock and its repercussions.
Then, once again the unexpected and Michèle’s father passed away in the U.S. Not long after she decided to return to her country of birth and start over from scratch. But thanks to her new linguistic abilities in Japanese, Michèle got a 1-year mission with PANASONIC at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, which gave her the possibility to connect with world broadcasters around the globe.
Moving to the New York region after the Olympics to try and establish her new life, she was nonetheless met with more crises with the Twin Tower terrorist attacks on September 11th. Then only one month later, Michèle was in a serious car accident which crushed the lower part of her left arm. Without health insurance, Michèle was in serious trouble, that is until someone from the south of France invited her to recuperate on the Cote d’Azur for a few months. – In France, even though a foreigner, she had the right to receive health care for her arm.
Thanks to her participation in an intercultural SIETAR* event in Hungary, and meeting a woman from Paris who invited Michèle to visit the capital, Michèle moved to Paris in 2002 where she still is, as of this writing.
Another chapter then opened for her, as she supported herself for 15 years by teaching English to professionals in the Paris region, trying to apply her convictions regarding humanistic and intercultural education. In 2017 after a cancer operation, Michèle decided a strong effort was needed to create her own structure finally, where she could put into practice all her beliefs about education and the Arts, as bridges between different cultures and peoples. And this is how Musique Universelle Arc-en-Ciel, MUAC, was born in April of 2018.
(For more detail on this history, and the current plans for MUAC’s future, please see HISTORY of MUAC)
* SIETAR = Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research
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