MUSICALLY MISCELLANEOUS MAYHEM

Musicological Musings with a smattering of Miscellanea

Saturday, March 20, 2010

SAM 2010 Part II



Phil has offered some very sane, well-phrased, and constructive criticisms of Thursday's seminar, and I certainly hope TPTB will take note. Let's see...where were we? Ah, yes, Friday afternoon.

One issue, but not necessarily problem, is that those of us blogging SAM2010 tend to go to the same sessions, but perhaps next year, we can recruit more bloggers to participate or do guest blogging spots, thereby "covering" a wider range of papers/events.

Like Drew, I attended the Cold War Anxieties session during the late morning of Friday. Phil's paper was, as expected, fantastic, and started churning a whole lot of thoughts in my mind. Even just listening to the snippet of Bernstein's "Age of Anxiety" got me thinking about de-volution in musical codas, and how much the end of the Epilogue seems like the reverse experience of Stravinsky's Firebird with its 'born from the ashes' finale. Phil talked about how it avoids "triumphalism," but I felt it used some of the same techniques inherent in "triumphant" endings, but to push it toward anxiety, rather than triumph. I can't wait to get home and spend some more time with the work. And that is what a good paper should do. We start the Cold War unit in my 'War and Music in the US' class on Tuesday, so Phil's paper and the others gave me a lot of food for thought. Jennifer Delapp-Birkett offered some revelations from the FBI files on Copland which are immediately relevant to my own research, so there is a contact I need to make. Keith Hatschek's paper on Dave Brubeck's 1958 State Dept.-sponsored tour was fascinating for interpolated questions of race, Cold War politics, and musical style. I also appreciated Leann Wood's paper on the Cold War reception of the film The Music Man, and found myself amused at the questions of martiality and regimented music that can be appropriated by either side .

My afternoon was spent at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. We had a great tour, including an excellent demonstration of hoop dancing (see photo). Our guide was one of the people who was instrumental in the development of the First Peoples exhibit and so we received very good insights into the questions of curation that come up when you have to negotiate anthropology and archaeology. Rather than pigeonhole each tribe or group into their own little museum slots, the approach at the Museum is more reflective of the cultural dialogue between groups, and between the past and present. He cited intermarriage and trade culture as two reasons to approach it this way. A very impressive museum in a fascinating building.

The evening ended at Drew and Phil's no-host blogger reception at the Armada Lounge. When we finally gained access to the Armada Lounge (which sits atop The Brig), we were pleased to welcome a large contingent from the SAM Student Dinner.

TODAY (Saturday)

I started my morning off with Rebecca Bennett's (Northwestern) paper, "Virgil Thomson and Theodor Adorno: An Unlikely Team Fights an "Appreciation Racket" and thought about the resonance of their criticism in today's climate (specifically the hullabaloo over WGBH/WCRB in Boston--the link is to just one of many related articles from the Boston Musical Intelligencer). Then I jumped over to hear David Paul's (UCSB) great paper, "Does the Cradle Still Rock? Recreating an Infamous Premiere on Film," which investigated, among other things, the political resonance of three screenplays for film versions of Blitzstein's Cradle Will Rock (Lardner, Welles, and Tim Robbins). Lastly, I caught my former graduate colleague Revell Carr's (UNC Greensboro) fascinating paper on Charles Derby's California Hula Tour in 1862. I had to banish images of grass skirts and coconut shells as Rev showed a photo of hula dancers in 1862 who looked like a cross between Gibson Girls and Hawaiian aboriginals. It was amusing to see Victorian sensibilities inform something that has been popularly linked with the erotic in the modern day (however erroneously).

I'm looking forward to this afternoon's panel on Composer-Fellowships at the American Academy in Rome, with presentations by Judith Tick, Carol Oja, and Martin Brody.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pseudo-live-blogging Society for American Music 2010 (Ottawa)



One of the great joys of these conferences is the opportunity to see friends and colleagues. Dinner last night with Phil , and sitting on a panel (of sorts) yesterday with Drew, made me realize I very much miss blogging. So, in an attempt to re-energize my own blogging endeavors, I'm going to offer a few summaries of various happenings here at SAM in BEAUTIFUL Ottawa.

Like Drew, I'd like to chat with the participants in the other "seminar" format session: "Nineteenth-Century American Music Studies." Our seminar session, "The Art of Association" was an interesting experiment with lots of room for improvement, but also a lot of future potential. Drew has summarized the logistics and the participants over at amusicology, so I won't repeat here, but it was a pleasure to be a guinea pig as SAM looks toward shaking things up a bit in the conference world. ;-)

Day 2 (Today) has been exciting, having heard two great papers thus far:

  • Maureen DeMaio (UC Santa Barbara), "The Decline of Anti-Semitic Antimodernism: Daniel Gregory Mason and American Responses to Nazism in the 1930s
  • Elissa Harbert (Northwestern), "Italian Musicians in the Early United States, 1780-1830"
Maureen is ABD at my graduate alma mater and presented a recasting of Mason as affected by both the rise of Nazism in Europe and his friend Ossip Gabrilovich/witsch. In 1938, he reflects on his "ill-considered" words in earlier articles and works, assuming some responsibility for Gabrilovich's "deep-seated and almost voiceless" despair.

Elissa's work with Italian immigrant musicians, including Lorenzo da Ponte, was absolutely fascinating and tied in nicely with some of the issues explored yesterday during the "Art of Association" seminar. The genres with which musicians were involved (opera/oratorio vs. band/dance music) seems to have had some impact on the success of these musicians in the U.S.

I also enjoyed a poster session by Trudi Wright (University of Colorado, Boulder) on the evolution of Pins and Needles from a late Depression production of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union to a Broadway hit.

On tap (intended, anyway) for the rest of today:
  • Cold War Anxieties session, with papers by Phil Gentry, Jennifer Delapp-Birkett, Keith Hatschek, and Leanne Wood, chaired by Howard Pollack.
  • A tour of the Canadian Museum of Civilization (SAM has this lovely tradition of an afternoon "off" to take in the sights)
  • Concert and Presentation of Honorary Membership to composer R. Murray Schafer
  • AND, last, but not least, Drew and Phil's no-host blogger reception at the Armada Lounge (careful piano music set to auto-play on website) starting at 9pm.