Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fall Chapter Meeting, Saturday, Sept 28, 2013 (U Mass Amherst)

AMS-NE Chapter Meeting
Saturday, September 28, 2013
University of Massachusetts Amherst


Erinn Knyt, "New Instruments, New Sounds, and New Musical Laws: Ferruccio Busoni, Edgard Varèse, and the “Music of the Future”"

The disparity between Edgard Varèse’s early European compositions, described in Romantic or Impressionistic terms by those who heard them, and his experimental American compositions has contributed to the widespread assumption that Varèse reinvented himself after encountering the sights and sounds of New York. When composers are named as sources of influence, Richard Strauss and Claude Debussy are most frequently mentioned. Arnold Schoenberg and Igor Stravinsky sometimes follow. While these composers undoubtedly influenced Varèse, especially with regard to his harmonic choices and use of episodic structures, they did not provide models for more characteristic features of his experimental compositional style: rhythmic simultaneity, expansion of the tonal system, the use of non-traditional instruments, and new means of formal organization based on sound.

Varèse repeatedly referred to Ferruccio Busoni, to whom he went for compositional advice from 1908-1913, as the most seminal influence on his experimental music, stating: “he [Busoni] crystalized my half-formed ideas, stimulated my imagination, and determined, I believe, the future development of my music.” While several scholars have mentioned aesthetic similarities between the two composers, the scope and importance of the relationship has yet to be documented. Based on concert programs, letters, lectures, scores, interviews, and annotations in Varese’s copy of Busoni’s Sketch of a New Aesthetic of Music, my paper provides the first detailed account of the Busoni-Varèse connection. It documents Busoni’s significance as Varese’s teacher, mentor and friend, while analyzing parallels between aesthetic ideals, compositional styles, and concert organizing activities. In so doing it not only provides missing information about Varèse’s little-documented musical activities in Berlin (1908-1913), but also much-needed context for his compositional innovations and for the development of experimental music in the early twentieth century.

Evan MacCarthy, "The English Voyage of Pietrobono"

Praised by poets, scholars, and fellow musicians of his day, the singer, lutenist, and teacher Pietrobono de Burzellis (c. 1417-1497) achieved international renown for his skill at improvisational singing and performance on plucked instruments. Until recently, archival documents recorded his presence at many courts of the Italian peninsula (including Milan, Naples, Mantua, and his hometown of Ferrara) and as far as away as the Hungarian court. However his travels brought him further from Italy than previously noticed by musicologists. Twenty years ago, the late Adriano Franceschini published his transcription of an August 1466 testament drawn up by Pietrobono in advance of a risky trip ‘ad partes Anglie’ that he was planning to begin the very next day. The testament not only makes reference to this journey, but also describes the duties his wife must fulfill as his heir, which included a visit to the shrine of Santissima Annunziata in Florence. Numbered among the witnesses to this notarial document (of which there were many) was his tenorista Francesco Malacise, as well as important nobles at the Estense courts. Whether Pietrobono reached his destination or not, this planned trip to England not only demonstrates the long distance to which his reputation called him, but also offers new and intriguing evidence of music and musicians traveling between England and Italy in the third quarter of the fifteenth century, among larger diplomatic retinues, and at the very same time Britons like the singer Anna and the composer Robertus de Anglia were in or near Pietrobono‘s Ferrara.

Emiliano Ricciardi, "A Late Blossom: Torquato Tasso’s Lyric Poems and Neapolitan Madrigal Culture"

Collectively known as Rime, the lyric poems of Torquato Tasso (1544-1595) enjoyed a remarkable fortune among madrigal composers, who produced hundreds of settings of these poems. The vast majority of the extant madrigals on the Rime date from the 1580s and the early 1590s, when Tasso’s lyric poems were published in a number of widely circulating literary prints. The musical fortune of the Rime rapidly declined in the following years, due to the limited number of literary prints published after Tasso’s death in 1595 and to a shift in the composers’ taste toward more modern poetry, such as that of Marino and Chiabrera. This decline occurred homogenously in virtually all Italian cities and regions, with a notable exception, Naples, where the production of madrigals on Tasso’s lyric poems spiked precisely around 1600. 
In this paper I investigate why composers like Dentice, Gesualdo, Montella, and Nenna, among others, showed interest in Tasso’s Rime at a time in which they were no longer fashionable among madrigalists. In particular, I show that their fondness for Tasso’s poetry was influenced by local literary trends and by their patrons’ relationship with the late Tasso, who spent a substantial amount of time in Naples in the last few years of his life and circulated his work in the Neapolitan cultural milieu. Furthermore, I examine how Neapolitan composers related to the musical tradition associated with Tasso’s Rime, demonstrating that although they occasionally displayed awareness of earlier settings, they departed from the tradition by providing highly original musical renditions of Tasso’s lyric poems. In so doing, this paper sheds light not only on the musical reception of Tasso’s Rime in Naples and on the causes of its lateness, but also on the Neapolitan school’s place in the history of the late madrigal.

Alessandra Jones, "Massenet’s Scènes Dramatiques (1874) and the French Art of Distilling Shakespeare"


Jules Massenet composed his fifth orchestral suite, titled Scènes dramatiques, just prior to achieving international success. He based the suite, as indicated on the title page of the published score, on dramatic moments from several Shakespeare plays. The first movement, drawing on The Tempest, begins with a large storm before shifting focus to the fantastical elements of the play. The second movement depicts Desdemona before her murder in Othello—a scene not found in the original play, but one that is clearly of interest to Massenet and, later, Giuseppe Verdi. Verdi’s presence also looms over the third and final movement, which attempts a larger narrative as it brings us through some of the major moments of Macbeth: the witches, Banquo’s ghost at the banquet, and the coronation of King Malcolm. 
In this paper, I analyze Massenet’s interpretation of these plays and place this work in the wider context of Shakespeare’s French musical reception. In particular, I argue that Massenet had in mind various operatic and symphonic works by Verdi, his “god” Hector Berlioz, the “illustrious master” Charles Gounod, and his beloved mentor Ambroise Thomas. For instance, the triumphant ending of the Macbeth movement parallels the ending of Verdi’s 1865 revision of Macbeth, which was specifically written for a Parisian audience. Massenet also included and then later omitted a movement based on Romeo and Juliet—a subject that both Berlioz and Gounod had already tackled. This piece is then representative of the development of not only a young composer, but also a long-standing French musical trend, albeit one that soon died out. Massenet never wrote an opera based on Shakespeare, but his Scènes dramatiques looks back at his musical heritage right before he stepped into his own spotlight.

Lester Zhuqing Hu, "“Sing with Me a Sweet and New Song”: Chromatic Tournament in Lasso’s “Opus One”"


The first printed collection of Lasso’s work (Antwerp: Susato, 1555) ends with two of the earliest chromatic polyphonic compositions of the sixteenth century: Lasso’s “Alma Nemes,” and Rore’s “Calami sonum ferentes.” Lowinsky reads Rore’s “Calami” as an “antichromatic manifesto,” the sound of which satirized Vicentino’s advocacy for chromaticism. Most scholars accept Lowinsky’s interpretation, but I question his reading of Rore’s motet as a mockery of chromaticism. Both Rore’s “Calami” and Lasso’s “Alma” set texts that call for a “new and sweet sound”—a cue for chromaticism, commonly associated with the soave affect and the resurrection of ancient Greek music. 

I argue that these two motets suggest that already in its earliest examples in the sixteenth century chromaticism was adapted to serve different musical functions and styles. In the tradition of Venetian madrigals, Rore’s chromaticism responds to the text with local expressive effects. The trajectory of interval affects and local tonal centers follow the psychological journey of the text. Influenced by Roman-Neapolitan madrigals, Lasso’s chromaticism eschews local drama but creates a peculiar ambience for the whole. Homophonic progressions of major triads embody the “new and sweet” sound called for by the text. Rore’s dramatic effects and Lasso’s otherworldly atmosphere provide the foundation for two distinct legacies in the history of Renaissance chromaticism.

Although Lasso’s “Alma” seems to emulate Rore’s work, I demonstrate that there are crucial differences between the two composers’ approaches to chromaticism. Rore employs numerous melodic chromatic semitones; Lasso uses only a few. Rore takes advantage of contrasting interval affects within the chromatic idiom; Lasso employs an unusually large number of major sonorities. Both pieces are set in the E-durus tonal type, but “Alma” follows the conventional course of E-Phrygian with cadences on E and A while “Calami” ventures to B and F-sharp as local tonal centers.


Mary Caldwell, "A Patchwork Prayer: Poetic and Musical Borrowing in a Medieval Song"


At least eight times a day across premodern Europe, the prayer “Make haste, O God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O Lord” (“Deus in adiutorium meum intende; Domine ad adiuvandum me festina”) sounded from the lips of the faithful as the standard introduction to the hours of the Divine Office. This brief, psalmic text was an almost utilitarian petition that served countless functions in the daily life of clerics, monastics, and laity alike, from its recitation before laborious tasks, to its use in warding off the devil and accompanying the sign of the cross. Reflecting its omnipresence in medieval culture are the numerous musical settings of Deus in adiutorium preserved in manuscripts of both sacred and secular repertories. One such setting of the verse that has received only scant attention is a monophonic Latin refrain song preserved solely in a thirteenth-century Parisian manuscript. In this sacred song, Pater creator omnium, the prayer functions as the refrain, while the surrounding stanzas are quotations derived from other sacred texts. As a whole, Pater creator omnium is an utterly unique poetic patchwork that meditates, largely through its Deus in adiutorium refrain, on salvation obtained through continual prayer. In this paper I examine the complex poetic borrowing in Pater creator omnium and argue that the song not only borrows text but also music from contemporaneous tropes of the liturgical verse. In other words, I connect for the first time this unusual patchwork song to a much larger medieval repertory of monophonic and polyphonic settings of Deus in adiutorium. Moreover, I unveil striking resonances between the numerous repetitions of Deus in adiutorium as the refrain of Pater creator omnium and its broader cultural significance as an all-purpose petition and salvific prayer whose efficacy is increased through constant reiteration.


John Forrestal, "“Always is Always Forever”: The Musical Trajectory of the Process Church of the Final Judgement"


The Process Church of the Final Judgment (1964-1974) was a Scientological offshoot created by two former members of the London branch. Their experimentations with psychotherapy led to the development of an incredibly tight-knit group of followers, who subsequently made a pilgrimage to the Yucatàn peninsula of Mexico where a natural disaster imbued their collective spirituality with apocalyptic reinterpretations of Christian theology. Upon returning to London and the States, the Process took their eschatological message to the streets. The Process' religious canon contained a large musical output; rock bands within the cult developed out of collective musical energies, in addition to hymns and chants that served a Utilitarian purpose. Members of the Process were contiguously in the same social circles as many famous musicians, such as Mick Jagger. Thus, their influence can be seen in the popular musical idioms of their time, although there’s little mentioned in biographical accounts about their influence.

Over three decades since the schism that marked the end of the Process, their teachings ostensibly live on today, through a musical collective known as Holy Terror, and through a band “the Sabbath Assembly” reinterpreting the hymns of the Process. My intention is to recreate the historical framework of this unique religious movement, especially the cross-relationships between it and the popular music of their time. Upon providing a solid foundation, my intent is to explore the lineage and re-adaptation of Processean ideology in this contemporary musical milieu, and the processes of change that take place in the religious tenets intrinsic to Processean thought and the mindsets of contemporaneous re-interpreters. I also intend to explore Holy Terrorism within its subcultural context, and its relation to a larger global narrative–particularly the over sensationalized eschatological concepts that are inextricably intertwined in the moral, political, and sociological fabrics of mainstream contemporary society.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

MAPS for Saturday's Meeting at U Mass Amherst

Our hosts at U Mass Amherst recommend parking in Lot 62, which you can find in quadrant D-4 on this map:
http://www.umass.edu/visitorsctr/downloads/map_2012.pdf

Other campus maps and directions are available here:
http://www.umass.edu/visitorsctr/campusmaps

Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Program: Fall Chapter Meeting--September 28, 2013 at U Mass Amherst

AMS-NE Fall Chapter Meeting
September 28, 2013
Bezanson Recital Hall, Fine Arts Center
University of Massachusetts Amherst


9:45-10:15 Refreshments and Registration

Morning Session       
10:15   Welcome

10:20   New Instruments, New Sounds, and New Musical Laws: Ferruccio Busoni, Edgard Varèse,
and the “Music of the Future”

        Erinn Knyt (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

11:00   The English Voyage of Pietrobono

        Evan MacCarthy (College of the Holy Cross)

11:40    A Late Blossom: Torquato Tasso’s Lyric Poems and Neapolitan Madrigal Culture

        Emiliano Ricciardi (University of Massachusetts Amherst)


12:20-2:00   Lunch Break

2:00-2:30     Business Meeting


Afternoon Session

2:30     Massenet’s Scènes Dramatiques (1874) and the French Art of Distilling Shakespeare

        Alessandra Jones (Hunter College)

3:10    “Sing with Me a Sweet and New Song”: Chromatic Tournament in Lasso’s “Opus One”

        Lester Zhuqing Hu (University of Chicago)

3:50    A Patchwork Prayer: Poetic and Musical Borrowing in a Medieval Song

        Mary Caldwell (Williams College)

4:30     “Always is Always Forever”: The Musical Trajectory of the Process Church of the
Final Judgment

        John Forrestal (Boston University)

5:10   Refreshments

Further information, including directions, abstracts, and presenter bios, will soon be available on the chapter website ( http://www.ams-ne.org).

Monday, July 1, 2013

CFP: AMS-NE Fall 2013 Meeting (U Mass Amherst-9/28)

The Fall 2013 meeting of the New England Chapter of the American Musicological Society will be held on Saturday, 28 September 2013 at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA.

The Program Committee invites proposals of up to 300 words for papers and roundtable sessions. Abstracts should be submitted by Wednesday, 31 July 2013 via email to jsholes@bu.edu or by mail to Jacquelyn Sholes, AMS-NE Program Chair, Department of Musicology & Ethnomusicology, School of Music, College of Fine Arts, Boston University, 855 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215.

Presenters must be members of the American Musicological Society. Those who are not currently dues-paying members of the New England Chapter will be asked to kindly remit the modest Chapter dues ($10).

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Spring Chapter Meeting, Saturday, April 20, 2013 (Northeastern University)

**PLEASE NOTE: Due to the aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013, this meeting was cancelled. Papers that were read at the following Fall Chapter meeting are marked below.***

The abstracts for the papers are included here, but the meeting did not take place.

Melanie Lowe, "Topics of Consumer Identity in the 1780s: Pleyel’s op. 1 and Mozart’s op. 10 String Quartets"

By considering the role of topics in the musical experience of late eighteenth-century amateur musical consumers, this paper addresses: 1) the role of burgeoning consumerism in the formation of taste and consumer identity; and 2) relationships between patterns of consumption and musical style. While there is frustratingly little documentation that reveals the listening experiences of amateur consumers, the music itself offers a rich source of information. As practitioners of a rhetorical art, eighteenth-century composers tailored their music for a specific audience. Given the commercial realities of the musical marketplace, most of the music that was published was marketed to non-professionals for private performance. The commercial success of a publication therefore greatly depended on how well the composer accommodated the musical competencies of Liebhaber.
Examples from two sets of string quartets composed and published in the 1780s will serve to explore the intersubjective stylistic knowledge of musical consumers: Pleyel’s Op. 1 which enjoyed tremendous commercial success and were clearly composed with Liebhaber in mind; and Mozart’s Op. 10, which were notoriously “Liebhaber unfriendly” and far less successful commercially. 

My analyses of Pleyel’s and Mozart’s quartets take up questions of topical enrichment and parametric density; mechanisms of topical coding; interactions between topical content, syntactical function, and formal articulation; and associations with social, cultural, and musical life. [abstract abbreviated]

Lester Zhuqing Hu, "“Sing with Me a Sweet and New Song”: Chromatic Tournament in Lasso’s “Opus One”" [READ AT Fall 2013 Chapter Meeting]

The first printed collection of Lasso’s work (Antwerp: Susato, 1555) ends with two of the earliest chromatic polyphonic compositions of the sixteenth century: Lasso’s “Alma Nemes,” and Rore’s “Calami sonum ferentes.” Lowinsky reads Rore’s “Calami” as an “antichromatic manifesto,” the sound of which satirized Vicentino’s advocacy for chromaticism. Most scholars accept Lowinsky’s interpretation, but I question his reading of Rore’s motet as a mockery of chromaticism. Both Rore’s “Calami” and Lasso’s “Alma” set texts that call for a “new and sweet sound”—a cue for chromaticism, commonly associated with the soave affect and the resurrection of ancient Greek music.

Although Lasso’s “Alma” seems to emulate Rore’s work, I demonstrate that there are crucial differences between the two composers’ approaches to chromaticism. Rore employs numerous melodic chromatic semitones; Lasso uses only a few. Rore takes advantage of contrasting interval affects within the chromatic idiom; Lasso employs an unusually large number of major sonorities. Both pieces are set in the E-durus tonal type, but “Alma” follows the conventional course of E-Phrygian with cadences on E and A while “Calami” ventures to B and F-sharp as local tonal centers.
I argue that these two motets suggest that already in its earliest examples in the sixteenth century chromaticism was adapted to serve different musical functions and styles. In the tradition of Venetian madrigals, Rore’s chromaticism responds to the text with local expressive effects. The trajectory of interval affects and local tonal centers follow the psychological journey of the text. Influenced by Roman-Neapolitan madrigals, Lasso’s chromaticism eschews local drama but creates a peculiar ambience for the whole. Homophonic progressions of major triads embody the “new and sweet” sound called for by the text. Rore’s dramatic effects and Lasso’s otherworldly atmosphere provide the foundation for two distinct legacies in the history of Renaissance chromaticism.

Eric Rice, "Regret in Gombert’s Mass for the Coronation of Charles V"

On 24 February 1530, Pope Clement VII crowned the Habsburg ruler Charles V as Holy Roman Emperor in Bologna. It is clear from what we know of Charles’s personality that the ceremony — and especially its music — was important to him. A surviving mass by Nicolas Gombert, who was master of the emperor’s choirboys at the time, bears the title “Missa A la incoronation” in its earliest printed source, and its use in the coronation has never been questioned.
There were three main influences on the choice of texts and music sung at the event: first, the prescribed texts of the imperial coronation ritual; second, the political situation in Europe at the time; and third, the relationship of the first and second of these with the celebration of mass, including plainchant propers and at least two motets. This paper will touch on each of these in an effort to understand the context in which Gombert’s mass was heard and in what ways it might have been understood by its listeners. The work is a parody mass based on a chanson by Jean Richafort titled Sur tous regretz. This chanson — and therefore Gombert’s mass — has a somber character, and it is tempting to associate the choice of the mass’s model as representative of Charles’s feelings of regret following the 1527 Sack of Rome, which was undertaken by his own troops against his wishes. A more plausible explanation, one suggested by contemporaneous sources, is that Charles was particularly enamored with chansons of this kind and associated them as much with solemnity as sadness. Indeed, it may have been a family tradition: Marguerite of Austria, Charles’s aunt, was known to have owned a manuscript full of such “regret” chansons.

John Forrestal, "“Always is Always Forever”: The Musical Trajectory of the Process Church of the Final Judgement" [READ AT Fall 2013 Chapter Meeting]

The Process Church of the Final Judgment (1964-1974) was a Scientological offshoot created by two former members of the London branch. Their experimentations with psychotherapy led to the development of an incredibly tight-knit group of followers, who subsequently made a pilgrimage to the Yucatàn peninsula of Mexico where a natural disaster imbued their collective spirituality with apocalyptic reinterpretations of Christian theology. Upon returning to London and the States, the Process took their eschatological message to the streets. The Process' religious canon contained a large musical output; rock bands within the cult developed out of collective musical energies, in addition to hymns and chants that served a Utilitarian purpose. Members of the Process were contiguously in the same social circles as many famous musicians, such as Mick Jagger. Thus, their influence can be seen in the popular musical idioms of their time, although there’s little mentioned in biographical accounts about their influence.
Over three decades since the schism that marked the end of the Process, their teachings ostensibly live on today, through a musical collective known as Holy Terror, and through a band “the Sabbath Assembly” reinterpreting the hymns of the Process. My intention is to recreate the historical framework of this unique religious movement, especially the cross-relationships between it and the popular music of their time. Upon providing a solid foundation, my intent is to explore the lineage and re-adaptation of Processean ideology in this contemporary musical milieu, and the processes of change that take place in the religious tenets intrinsic to Processean thought and the mindsets of contemporaneous re-interpreters. I also intend to explore Holy Terrorism within its subcultural context, and its relation to a larger global narrative–particularly the over sensationalized eschatological concepts that are inextricably intertwined in the moral, political, and sociological fabrics of mainstream contemporary society.

David Ferrandino, "Pop at the Symphony: The Reciprocal Influence of Philip Glass and David Bowie"

Philip Glass's career has been deeply impacted by his collaborations with other musicians, artists, dancers and cinematographers. Some of these, most notably Koyaanisqatsi (1982) and his opera trilogy, are widely discussed and appreciated while other pieces remain overlooked. Glass's symphonic efforts remain a neglected aspect of his work, overshadowed by the visibility of his theatrical productions. According to Glass Biographer Robert Maycock, "symphonies were something that a progressive artist just did not do...nobody who wanted to be taken seriously by the leaders of opinion would touch it.” Perhaps because of this stigma, Glass chose to base his first symphony, Symphony No. 1 “Low” (1993), on a popular album written by David Bowie and produced by Brian Eno. Pleased with the results, the three artists collaborated again on Symphony No. 4 “Heroes” in 1996. In contrast to such albums as Symphonic Rock by the London Symphony Orchestra, Glass's symphonies are not simply arrangements of rock originals. Themes are extracted from the selected tracks and then composed out through the usual techniques of Glass's style. The end result is more of a commentary on the originals than anything approaching faithful reiteration: the formal constructions are modified, the thematic material is reworked and transformed, and the resultant affect of each piece is altered. In this paper I explore the musical details of Glass's “Low” Symphony and “Heroes” Symphony in order to reveal the web of artistic intersections that make these projects stand out from the rest of Glass’s output and to show how these pieces really are mutual creative acts. It is no accident that Glass chose to work with materials from these specific popular artists as he and Reich both had a strong influence on the popular music of the 1970s. Both Bowie and Eno were at the London premiere of Music with Changing Parts by the Philip Glass Ensemble in 1971 and both of their musical pieces began to exhibit the drones and repeated figures of minimalism after that. These symphonies become more complex when compared with the source albums, revealing the reciprocal influence between the minimalist and popular music spheres. Within this dialogue are points of synchronization as well as moments of disjunction and when the symphony breaks away from the album, Glass’s music becomes a commentary on Bowie’s original piece and a true collaboration between compositional voices emerges.

Michael Uy, "Staging Catfish Row in the Soviet Union: Porgy and Bess as “Cultural Exchange”"

For three weeks between 1955 and 1956 – only several months after the important Geneva Summit of “The Big Four” – the Everyman Opera Company staged George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess in Leningrad and Moscow. In the previous two years, the Robert Breen and Blevins Davis production had toured Europe and Latin America, partly subsidized by the U.S. State Department Cultural Presentations Program. Yet when Breen negotiated a tour to perform in Russia, the American government withdrew funding, stating that a production would be too “politically premature.” U.S. officials perceived the opera’s poor, black characters and dilapidated, rural setting as an unrepresentative depiction of the country and too controversial to support in light of the growing Civil Rights Movement. Surprisingly, however, the production was performed because at the last minute, the Soviet Ministry of Culture agreed to pay the tour costs in full.

This paper examines the performances in Leningrad, as chronicled by Soviet and black American periodicals, interviews with surviving cast members, and Truman Capote’s extraordinary account in The Muses are Heard. Archival evidence from the Robert Breen Papers, including American and Soviet government correspondence, reveals how Porgy was caught between competing personal and institutional interests in both countries. Officials in the United States Information Agency and the American National Theater and Academy were wary that the Russians would use Porgy as proof of minority oppression in a capitalist system. In the Soviet Union, Nikolai Bulganin and Nikita Khrushchev, who were still consolidating political leadership after Stalin’s death, responded with skepticism and questioned American commitment to “cultural exchange.” These documents uncover the myriad difficulties of staging an opera during the Cold War that was performed by black artists, written by white authors, rejected by the American government, and sponsored by the Soviet Union.

Friday, April 19, 2013

CANCELLED: Spring 2013 Chapter Meeting at Northeastern

 In light of Northeastern University's cancellation of two campus events scheduled for tomorrow, as well as the ongoing shelter-in-place order and T shutdown, we are cancelling tomorrow's chapter meeting of the AMS-NE.

I would like to thank Hilary Poriss and Matthew McDonald at Northeastern for their help and assistance in planning this meeting. I also send my regrets to our presenters, but we hope to find some way to ameliorate this situation in the Fall. Please stay tuned.

And lastly, many thanks to the Program Committee and Chairperson Jacquelyn Sholes for putting together a wonderful program.

This measure may be unnecessary, but I would rather play it safe, given the open-ended nature of the situation at present.

Thank you all, and I look forward to seeing you at U Mass Amherst on September 28th, when hopefully we are back to more peaceful times here in Boston.
Stay safe,
Rebecca Marchand
AMS-NE President

Decision on Tomorrow's Chapter Meeting to be made by 5pm today

Dear Members and Friends,

Given the fluid and dynamic situation with the current manhunt in Boston, the organizers of tomorrow's AMS-NE chapter meeting at Northeastern have decided to wait to see how the situation unfolds before cancelling the meeting. We will make a decision at 5pm EST and will let you know. We sincerely hope that those who are presenting papers will get the chance to do so, but we also want to make sure that people feel safe both at the meeting and in transit.

Thank you for your patience.  Please watch this blog for updates.  I will also send a message out via the Google Groups list and the Facebook group.

I hope you are all safe, and wish you the very best during this difficult time.

All best,
Rebecca Marchand
AMS-NE President

rmarchand at bostonconservatory dot edu

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Additional Information for Spring 2013 Meeting at Northeastern (Saturday, April 20)

Parking/Maps/Directions

Directions to Northeastern can be found at: http://www.northeastern.edu/campusmap/directions.html
Parking and Transportation information from our hosts: 
Guests can park in the Gainsborough Garage or the Renaissance Park Garage. The Renaissance Park garage is the closest to Ryder Hall--it is located at 835 Columbus Avenue. From the garage, you have to walk through Ruggles station to the other side of the tracks, and once you exit Ruggles station, Ryder Hall is the first building to the left. The garages are not cheap--($18-$24 for the day). If people want to give street parking a shot, they'll have better luck looking on the side streets off of Columbus." If you prefer to take public transportation, Northeastern is easily accessible via the Orange Line (Ruggles Sta.) or the Green Line (Northeastern Sta.).

Printable Campus Map: http://www.northeastern.edu/campusmap/printable/campusmap.pdf
Gainsborough Garage- #45
Renaissance Park Garage #62
Ryder Hall is #24 on the Map.



Business Meeting

During the meeting we will be holding elections for 1 Grad Student Rep to the AMS and for Secretary/Treasurer.

Current nominees are:
For Sec/Treasurer:
Sam Rechtoris (current Sec/Treasurer)

For Graduate Student Rep, 2013-15:
None

If you are interested in running, nominations will be taken from the floor at the meeting. Any member in good standing may nominate a viable candidate for these offices.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

MEETING: Northeastern University-April 20

AMS-NE Spring Chapter Meeting
Saturday, April 20, 2013
217 Ryder Hall
Northeastern University


9:45-10:15 Refreshments and Registration


Morning Session
10:15 Welcome

10:20 Topics of Consumer Identity in the 1780s: Pleyel’s op. 1 and Mozart’s op. 10 String Quartets

                 Melanie Lowe (Vanderbilt University)

11:00 “Sing with Me a Sweet and New Song”: Chromatic Tournament in Lasso’s “Opus One”

                 Lester Zhuqing Hu (Amherst College)

11:40 Regret in Gombert’s Mass for the Coronation of Charles V

                 Eric Rice (University of Connecticut)


12:20-2:20 Lunch Break


2:20-2:50 Business Meeting (Elections)


Afternoon Session
2:50 “Always is Always Forever”: The Musical Trajectory of the Process Church of the Final Judgement

                 John Forrestal (Boston University)

3:30 Pop at the Symphony: The Reciprocal Influence of Philip Glass and David Bowie

                 David Ferrandino (University at Buffalo, SUNY)

4:10 Staging Catfish Row in the Soviet Union: Porgy and Bess as “Cultural Exchange”

                 Michael Uy (Harvard University)


4:50 Refreshments



Further information, including directions, abstracts, and presenter bios, will soon be available on the chapter website ( http://www.ams-ne.org).
Join us on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/groups/amsne/

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Winter Chapter Meeting, February 2, 2013 (Tufts University)

AMS-NE Chapter Meeting
Saturday, February 2, 2013
Tufts University

Louis Epstein, "Triple Threat: Ida Rubinstein as Patron, Impresario, and Director"

Between 1928 and 1934, Ida Rubinstein and her Ballets Rubinstein presented four ambitious seasons of original works in Paris, filling a gap left by the demise of the Ballets Russes and defying the economic downturn that hobbled other cultural institutions. Like the Ballets Russes, whose opulet, exoticist performances of Cléopâtre and Schéhérezade in 1909 and 1910 had made Rubinstein a household name, the Ballets Rubinstein featured mainly foreign performers and visual artists in big budget spectacles that married dance, mime, music, and declamation. Rubinstein solicited musical scores almost exclusively from contemporary French composers. Rubinstein – who funded, managed, and directed her productions – offered exceptionally lucrative commissions to Ravel, Stravinsky, Auric, Milhaud, Honegger, Sauguet, and Ibert. Rubinstein originally built her stage reputation with the Ballets Russes, whose opulent, exoticist spectacles  representations of Russian culture, many of the works performed by the Ballets Rubinstein relied on classical subjects and neoclassical scores to evoke nostalgia for an elegant, imperial past, one not so subtly coded as French.Rubinstein’s successful work as patron, impresario, and ballet director remains little recognized today. I situate Rubinstein’s contributions to French musical life in the context of the activities of other patron-directors of ballet in interwar France. Drawing on analyses of several works in her troupe’s repertoire, I argue that Rubinstein’s commissions sought to realize a particularly French form of “total art” with roots in early modern dance and ballet-chanté. Instead of hailing her artistic achievements and valuing her Francophilia, critics attacked Rubinstein mercilessly. They focused on her age, her appearance, her heavy French accent, her inadequate footwork as prima ballerina. Before his death, Diaghilev dismissed Rubinstein’s troupe as “Les Ballets Juifs,” while others laced misogynist and xenophobic barbs throughout their reactions to her performances. By framing critical invective in terms of the anxiety felt over the economic and cultural power wielded by Ida Rubinstein, I offer a new approach to the roles she played – both on stage and in interwar French musical culture. 

Basil Considine, "Music and the Pirates of Madagascar"

The stereotypical Western image of pirates derives largely from the Golden Age of Piracy (c. 1650-c. 1740). These pirates – including infamous figures such as Henry Morgan, William Kidd, and Edward Teach (Blackbeard) – have been immortalized and glamorized in numerous depictions in popular culture. Most details about pirate life and culture, however, can be traced back to a small number of sources, most of which are in turn surrounded by questions of dubious authorship and authenticity. The scholarly consensus is that the popular Western depiction of a pirate is primarily founded on works of fiction and varying levels of fabrication.

This paper examines music and other cultural activities practiced by European-led pirates during the Golden Age of Piracy, focusing on pirates who operated near or based themselves in Madagascar. It describes music making and its function in pirate society, using archival documents from Dutch, English, and French sources that record first-hand observations. It outlines the formation and origins of the pirate crews, contextualizes the use of music in shipboard and shore life, details musical interactions between pirate crews and the natives of Madagascar, and describes the musical and dance entertainments witnessed during pirate expeditions to the Dutch colony of Mauritius. It also examines some of the reasons behind the dissolution of the so-called “Pirate’s Republic” in Madagascar, including the use of European art music in Mauritius as an inducement for pirates to retire peacefully to that island. 

Matthew Mugmon, "Copland, Mahler, and the American Sound"

Scholars, composers, and critics have long suggested relationships between the music of the Austrian composer Gustav Mahler and the American composer Aaron Copland. That such connections would exist is not surprising, given that Copland routinely praised Mahler’s music, particularly its orchestration, in his writings.Nonetheless, the specific role Mahler’s music played in Copland’s compositional aesthetic — an aesthetic that is often viewed as having embodied a distinctly “American sound” — has yet to be studied thoroughly.
This paper begins to address this gap by arguing that Copland composed references to Mahler’s music — particularly to the conclusion of Das Lied von der Erde — into his own. Copland wrote and spoke fondly of this distinctive passage, which features colorful orchestration, non-chord tones layered over a static harmony, and a melody that does not cadence. Strikingly similar passages from several of Copland’s compositions from the 1920s through the 1940s — including Music for the Theatre, Statements, Appalachian Spring, the Third Symphony, and the Clarinet Concerto — reveal the extent to which the end of Das Lied informed Copland’s composing. Because Copland initially experienced Mahler’s orchestral works by playing through them on the relatively uniform timbre of the piano, I suggest that he satisfied the desire he repeatedly expressed to “hear” Mahler’s music by including Mahlerian sonorities in his compositions.
These links between Mahler’s and Copland’s compositions invite a reexamination of the relationships between Romanticism and American modernism. Locating Mahler’smusic as a source of American modernism challenges narratives that downplay its debts to Austro-German music.

Brent Wetters, "Choreographic Notation: Richard Barrett’s Ne songe plus à fuir"

Ethnomusicology offers a distinction between prescriptive and descriptive notational systems. Prescriptive scores are those that give the performer a set of instructions on how to make a series of sounds, while descriptive systems attempt to visually represent those sounds, often allowing the performer to decide the approach. Guitar tablature is an example of a prescriptive system, while traditional staff notation is usually held to be descriptive. In practice, most scores are some compromise between the two. The present study aims to assess the important work of Richard Barrett (b. 1959) in light of this tension, and to answer how Barrett holds these two opposing impulses in such delicate balance. The notation of his composition for solo cello, Ne songe plus à fuir (1986), evokes the music; in many respects its level of specificity is so great as to describe music that can never be realized. And yet, certain key moments reveal that the notation describes not so much the sound itself as the physical choreography of interactions between the performer and instrument. This is to say, the musical material is to be found primarily at the level of physical gesture: the work is divided into six sections that each explores a different mode of interaction. Those interactions and their development, however, are mediated by the act of their inscription into notation; the material is developed means of the potentialities inherent in the notational system, each time pushing the specific action to its breaking point. The score stands as an alternative representation of the music that does not fully align with any given performance, because it is descriptive of physicality, not its audible results.

Max De Curtins, "“Computer, Please Replicate One Viola”: The Reanimation of Classical Music in the Future"

Why does “classical” music, despite longtime rhetorical wrangling over its survival, turn up so prominently in science fiction? From A Clockwork Orange to Star Trek: The Next Generation, from Minority Report to Firefly, numerous instances appear in films and television of diegetic classical music serving a variety of functions, not the least of which is to invoke the past. In all cases this music is heavily infused with exoticism. Perhaps no other idiom—by virtue of its age and execution—has a greater ability to connect our future to our past than classical music. Drawing upon Lawrence Kramer’s concept of performance as reanimation, I read the diegetic musical event as a reanimation of classical music’s historical functions and position within cultural discourse. In this paper I conduct a close reading of examples from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Minority Report, and Firefly, in which the reanimation of the music enacts and reflects the film/show’s ethos.
I argue further that two contexts exist for the reanimation of Western art music: the utopian (proposed by Star Trek), in which this music sheds its historical associations with exclusivity, wealth, and power, and serves to enrich daily life; and the dystopian (proposed by Minority Report and Firefly), in which Western art music no longer functions as art, but rather as a tool for imposing a power structure, or—contradictorily—for escaping from one. These depictions, “bridging the gap between fiction and reality,” invite us to contemplate our own musical past, present, and future.

 Hannah Lewis, "Michael Gordon’s Decaying Orchestra: Decasia as Audiovisual Elegy"

Decasia (2001), video artist Bill Morrison and composer Michael Gordon’s most critically acclaimed collaboration, consists of assembled archival footage from nitrate film prints in various stages of decomposition. The on-screen images, according to Morrison, seem to resist their own decay. Gordon’s 55-piece orchestral score accompanies these images, with detuned instruments to “make the orchestra sound like it was covered in cobwebs.”
Decasia’s non-narrative form has elicited diverse interpretations: a call for archival film preservation, a comment on the inevitability of entropy and fragility of the cinematic image, and the cycle of death and re-birth more broadly; some critics have even interpreted darker allusions to concentration camps, Hiroshima, and 9/11. Regardless, by foregrounding its profound material instability, Decasia highlights the precarious nature of its own form. In this paper, I argue that the work is an elegy for a dual ontological death: of cinema and symphonic music. Created at the turn of the millennium, on the cusp of a new technological era that transformed cinematic and musical media, Decasia urges us to watch and listen to what happens when old artistic forms die.  I situate the work within a larger discourse about the changing ontology of cinema and music in the digital age, drawing on Lev Manovich’s definition of “new media” and the writings of film theorist David Rodowick and sound studies scholar Jonathan Sterne. Additionally, I suggest that Gordon’s score, by sonically representing the physical decay of cinema’s materiality, obliquely comments on the material forms of its own dissemination: the transformation from analog to digital recording technology. By showing the potential for beauty in material decay, Decasia is both mournful and hopeful. My analysis sheds light on artistic responses to changing technologies—specifically, how artists and composers comment on new technologies through old ones.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Winter 2013 Meeting: This Saturday, Feb. 2 at Tufts

Please join us at Distler Hall, Perry and Marty Granoff Music Center at Tufts University this Saturday for the Winter 2013 Meeting of the New England Chapter of the American Musicological Society.

Refreshments begin at 9:45am. In addition to a wide variety of paper topics, this meeting will include the option of visiting the Lilly Library and Ritter Special Collections during lunch; tours are available, and food and drink are permitted.

Directions and Parking info can be found here.

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Program:

9:45-10:15 Refreshments and Registration

Morning Session
10:15 Welcome

10:20 Triple Threat: Ida Rubinstein as Patron, Impresario, and Director (Louis Epstein, Harvard University)

11:00 Music and the Pirates of Madagascar (Basil Considine, Boston University)

11:40 Copland, Mahler, and the American Sound (Matthew Mugmon, Harvard University)

12:20-2:20 Lunch Break (The Lilly Library and Ritter Special Collections (downstairs) are open to visitors during this time; tours are available, and food and drink are permitted.)

2:20-2:35 Business Meeting

Afternoon Session
2:35 Choreographic Notation: Richard Barrett’s Ne songe plus à fuir (Brent Wetters, Providence, RI)

3:15 “Computer, Please Replicate One Viola”: The Reanimation of Classical Music in the Future (Max DeCurtins, Boston, MA)

3:55 Michael Gordon’s Decaying Orchestra: Decasia as Audiovisual Elegy (Hannah Lewis, Harvard University)

4:35 Refreshments

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A few reflections on Beyond Notation: An Earle Brown Symposium

Note: If you attend a symposium or conference in New England, please consider submitting a short report for publication on this blog. You may send your submission to rebecca dot marchand at gmail dot com.
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Beyond Notation: An Earle Brown Symposium
January 18 & 19, 2013
Northeastern University

I'm glad to say it was teaching that kept me from attending the first day of Beyond Notation: An Earle Brown Symposium at Northeastern University, rather than some less noble excuse. I did attend many of the events on Saturday, however, and the day concluded with an extraordinary concert by the Callithumpian Consort. I offer a few reflections here, but this is by no means an exhaustive report on all events of the symposium, nor even all the events I attended.

 Richard Toop's keynote offerings (introduced via an audio recording of Toop and then read by Rebecca Kim) on lyricism in Brown's "Centering" (1973) gave me a deep appreciation for Ethan Wood's stunning performance with the Callithumpian later that night. Volker Straebel's paper, "Interdependence of Composition and Technology in Earle Brown's Tape Compositions Octet I/II (1953/54) highlighted some important distinctions between Cage's thoughts about sound versus Brown's view of sound durations--particularly Cage's more contrapuntal approach and Brown's "sound events that may or may not overlap." Brown's remark regarding the "kaleidoscopic abstraction of the library of sounds" invites me to spend more time incorpating Brown into my Feldman seminar. One of the biggest treats of the day was hearing Straebel's realization of Octet II, as the work was never realized in Brown's lifetime. I was struck by the sonic effect of looping the source material, as opposed to Octet I. As a musical work, the looping really did provide glue, particularly for a multi-channel piece. The lack of decay, as well, made Octet II a far different listening experience than Octet I. A question from the audience remarked on the irony of Brown's skepticism toward musique concrète, but the point was made (and I think rightly so) that the goals of musique concrète were more narrative, and that the use of chance operations negotiate Brown's issues with the art form.

Another highlight of yesterday's sessions was Stephen Drury, who led members of the Callithumpian Consort in a performance of John Zorn's Cobra, an unpublished game piece reliant upon a series of cues, but spontaneous in its musical material. Zorn describes these works as "tying together loose strings left dangling by composers such as Earle Brown, Cornelius Cardew, John Cage and Stockhausen...".(1) Drury provided just enough explanation of how the piece worked, but then let the work speak for itself, which seems to be largely the point. The presentation questioned conventional definitions of improvisation and composition, and Drury's abstract summarized beautifully the crux of the matter: "We learn/understand by traveling backwards through history; the recent past informs the less recent past; performers ain't what they used to be." (2) Drury mused that listening to Cobra without watching it made the experience both better and worse, and this stemmed from a question from the audience regarding the role of personality in improvised and open form works. One audience member offered that Cage strove to remove personality & performer's ego from his music, whereas Zorn seemed to thrive on it. I'm not ready to say that Cage and Zorn represent two polarities, because I think the whole "ego-less" mantra surrounding Cage's music is easily problematized, but positing Brown's open form works as a sort of "middle-ground" was intriguing. Another valuable insight stemming from this presentation was the idea that, although these game pieces can "sound like anything," they must sound good. Perhaps therein lies the real labor in performing a piece like this. Zorn's "community of players" have an aesthetic responsibility to themselves and the audience.

After this performance-demonstration, Stephen Drury conversed with Christian Wolff, which generated some interesting discussion regarding ideas of "perfection" in performance, the contemporary context for the rekindled popularity of this music, and the caveats brought about by recordings and access to previous performances of open form and improvisational works.

After lunch, Louis Pine offered a workshop on "Aspects of Earle Brown's Use of the Schillinger System of Composition" with a focus on Brown's 1992 work Tracking Pierrot. I only caught the last fifteen minutes of the workshop, but it did seem to be a worthwhile examination of Brown's pre-compositional plans and an attempt to more fully articulate the impact of Brown's study at the Schillinger House in Boston from 1945-1950. Jason Cady, of the Earle Brown Music Foundation, followed Pine's presentation with a generally helpful overview of Brown's compositional ideas and methods. I think all specialized symposia should open with a presentation of this type, inviting those less familiar with the subject to be more engaged. Particularly since one of the goals of these events is musical advocacy, expanding the conversation toward those outside of the niche should be a consideration.

It was Frederick Gifford's paper, "Imagining an Ever-Changing Entity: Compositional Process in Earle Brown's Cross Sections and Color Fields," that I found most engaging from the perspective of sketch and manuscript studies. In a beautifully organized presentation, drawn from an exhaustive examination of the sketches, Gifford proposed a five-step compositional process that perhaps most importantly put Brown's thoughts about open form as a later step, if not the last.

I did not attend the last session, but returned for the fantastic concert by the Callithumpian Consort, which beautifully contextualized Brown's Corroboree (1964), Centering (1973), Available Forms I (1961) and Sign Sounds (1972), in reference to two works not by Brown: Boulez's Constellation-Miroir (1957) and Zorn's For Your Eyes Only (1989). Steffen Schleiermacher was the guest soloist for the Boulez, and beautifully rendered the composer's materials. In his program note on the work, Richard Toop remarked on the irony in performing this work as part of this symposium: "Sure, it represents Boulez's work at precisely the point where he started to advocate Brown's music. Yet in other respects it seems to represent the opposite of Brown's pragmatism. In Cage's Notations, Brown writes: 'Good notation is what works.' But apropos Constellation-Miroir, Boulez might rather have written: 'Good notation is what mythologises'." (3) All the performances of the night were inspired and visionary, but Ethan Wood's performance in Centering was particularly profound, embodying the "otherworldly" aspect that ends the piece with a quotation of Maderna's first oboe concerto.

Bravo to the organizers and participants for such a wonderful symposium.

(1) John Zorn, "The Game Pieces" in Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music, eds. Christoph Cox and Daniel Warner (New York: Continuum, 2009), 196.
(2) Beyond Notation: An Earle Brown Symposium, program, 18.
(3) Beyond Notation: An Earle Brown Symposium, program, 27.

(Cross-posted at Musically Miscellaneous Mayhem)