Beyond black tie and bubbly: rescuing opera from stereotypes

Beyond black tie and bubbly: rescuing opera from stereotypes

A one-day conference organised by the Oxford Brookes University opera research unit (OBERTO), to be held on Tuesday 9 September 2014.

Discourse surrounding opera today is concerned with its apparently difficult position within society: journalists, the elusive ‘Mr Taxpayer’ and even some performers  are fond of presenting it as an ‘elitist’ pursuit for the snooty rich, who dress up to enjoy fat ladies singing loudly in opulent surroundings. Alternatively the cliché of the ‘opera buff’ is invoked, who flaunts a vocal score in the gallery and converses knowledgeably about performers and leitmotifs, in order to depict opera as a genre that excludes or positively repels the uninitiated.

While such stereotypes are arguably not new, the public image of opera as a publicly funded, but supposedly socially exclusive and intellectually demanding art form is more visible than ever. The media, in an online economy, are hungry for hits and comments and happily fan the flames of controversy; and the accessibility agenda in the arts creates an environment where, in the UK in particular, opera companies have to demonstrate their openness and their efforts to reach out to new audiences of ‘ordinary people’. Concerns about the squandering of public funds are never far from the surface of the debate. Britain, it would seem, has a particular opera ‘problem’, but it is one that has long and complex historical roots.

This conference aims to unpick and examine critically the idea of opera as a socially exclusive and intellectually forbidding genre. We aim to consider ways in which opera might be presented in more interesting ways to contemporary audiences and hope to bring together scholars, singers, directors, opera house personnel, journalists and opera goers in fruitful debate. We therefore invite papers addressing as wide a variety of topics and methodologies as possible, including (but by no means limited to):

  • The historical roots of operatic ‘elitism’: where, when, why and how did the concept of elite achievement become so freighted with negative connotations in an operatic context?
  • Attitudes to opera in continental Europe: performing opera without apologies
  • Accessibility and outreach: damned if you do, and damned if you don’t?
  • Not for ‘the likes of us’? Reassessing opera’s audiences
  • Opera journalism, social media and PR
  • The X-Factor factor: ‘authentic’ amateurism vs. professionalism
  • Crossover: hindrance or help?
  • Do attempts to address so-called ‘elitism’ serve only to perpetuate the idea?

We envisage that the conference will comprise a mixture of individual papers, panel discussions and open discussion. ‘Alternative format’ contributions are also welcomed.

Proposals of up to 250 words for individual papers of 20 minutes duration should be submitted by e-mail to Dr Alexandra Wilson (alexandra.wilson@brookes.ac.uk) no later than Friday 9th May.

Champagne will not be served.

Conference organisers: Dr Alexandra Wilson, Dr Barbara Eichner and Dr Hugo Shirley

OBERTO: Oxford Brookes – Exploring Research Trends in Opera

http://arts.brookes.ac.uk/oberto/

Improvisation: Educational Perspectives (1-day workshop)

Improvisation: Educational Perspectives (1 day workshop)
22nd of April
St Cecilia’s Hall
University of Edinburgh
(Admission free but booking essential)

BOOKING:  http://bit.ly/improveducation

Improvisation is taught and formally assessed in higher education institutions (HEIs) throughout the world, yet there are a number of intrinsic difficulties in teaching and assessing improvisation that may impact on the pedagogical process.  This event is a one-day workshop that will give academics and practitioners working in this area the opportunity to share ideas, practices and methods specifically related to the teaching, learning and assessment of improvisation in higher education.

The sorts of questions and topics we expect to cover include:

• What is improvisation?
• Can improvisation be taught and, if so, how?
• What scope and range can/should HEI curricula include?
• Should improvisation be assessed?  If so, how do we do this effectively?
• Is assessor subjectivity an important concern?  If so, is this more or less problematic than in traditional ‘recital’ assessment?
• Idiomatic versus ‘generic’ issues in improvisation pedagogy.
• Assessing the process of improvisation rather than the outputs.

(NB Lunch and refreshments will be provided so please be sure to inform us of any special requirements when you book [http://bit.ly/improveducation])

Speakers: 

Prof Raymond MacDonald (University of Edinburgh)

Improvisation and all that Jazz

Improvisation, as a universally accessible form of creativity, can facilitate innovative artistic collaborations that are both transdisciplinary and cross cultural. This presentation explores these unique features and also poses some key questions that are aligned with improvisation’s growing emergence within higher education. These questions include: what is improvisation; can it be taught and how can it be assessed.

Dr Michael Duch (Department of Music, Norwegian University of Science and Technology)

Composing Improvisation: Composed experimental music as improvisational exercises.

Can improvisation be composed and what is required of the performer? In the 1960′s experimental composers such as Cornelius Cardew and Christian Wolff made musical scores inspired by improvisation. Many of these pieces intended to diminish or blur the boundaries between composer and performer, but also between composed and improvised music.

Dr Paul Kleiman (Higher Education Academy)

Taking a Note for a Walk: Improvising assessment and assessing improvisation

Of all arts-based forms, improvisation provides a particular challenge to assessment regimes based on normative pedagogic discourses and practices. This contribution explores some of those challenges and offers some creative approaches to assessing on the edge of chaos.

Dr Zack Moir (University of Edinburgh)

‘Just like Clarence’ or ‘Just like Jimi’: Issues surrounding creativity, originality and pedagogy in pop and rock improvisation.

This presentation will begin by considering the nature of improvisation in pop and rock music with particular focus on creativity and originality.  The pedagogical implications of such issues will then be discussed by way of understanding the teaching, learning and assessment of improvisation in this idiom.

Dr Philippa Derrington (Queen Margaret University)

Making connections through improvisation in music therapy.

What is the purpose of improvisation in music therapy? How do music therapists improvise? This presentation will look at ways that improvisation is used to engage clients in interactive live music-making and how therapists are trained.

Entertainment! – Post Punk, New Wave and Authenticity

Entertainment! – Post Punk, New Wave and Authenticity

Friday 9th May, Registration at 12 noon, Lower Street Gallery, London College of Communication, Elephant & Castle, London SE1 6SB

For journalists, bands and fans, genre categories are often a convenient short-hand way of discriminating between what is perceived-to-be-‘cool’ and what is not. More often than not, this boils down to a discourse around ‘authenticity’: such-and-such is ‘the real thing’ whilst some other band or set of bands is, by contrast, ‘phonies’, ‘frauds’ and/or ‘Johnny-come-latelies’. The separation of ‘Post-punk’ from ‘New Wave’ c.1977-79 is a particularly interesting case because, firstly, the sense of ‘authenticity’ and commitment to a (punk) cause was so prominent in this period and, secondly, because many reputations and economies of taste continue to capitalise on a sense that, on the one hand, you’ve got the commercial trash and, on the other hand, you’ve got the real deal.

Perhaps, though, the idea that Post-punk and New Wave form distinct categories is not only something of a fiction but, also, one which has been retroactively constructed by journalists and bands but actually has little reflection in the feelings of both audience and industry. In terms of the audience, is it not the case that a huge number of people in the years in question and in the decades since have collected records from both sides of the supposed divide? With regards to the industry, is it not the case that many Post-punk and New Wave records were being designed, manufactured and distributed by the same companies? This is not to say that there is no distinction to be made between, say, Rough Trade and EMI: clearly there are legitimate grounds for distinguishing between the business model adopted by DiY and indie labels, on the one hand, and ‘the majors’, on the other hand. There remains a surprising level of confusion on this question, with many a supposed ‘indie’ label turning out to be affiliated to a major company; but this is not the central topic for consideration at this conference. Rather, the principal themes include (but are not necessarily restricted to):

• Similarities and differences between Post-punk and New Wave (musical, cultural, political)

• The construction of ‘authenticity’ through branding, marketing and critical positioning

• The extent to which punk-descended music(s) can be more than ‘entertainment’

• The artwork of Post-punk and New Wave records

• Audience reception of this music c.1977-9

• Audience perception of this music since the 1970s

• Constructions of taste between industry, journalists, bands and fans

The conference organisers are particularly keen to welcome presentations from non-academic individuals: it is hoped that a panel discussing audience-perception of Post-punk and New Wave will be primarily or better yet entirely made up of non- academic and non-industry individuals (AKA ‘fans’, if you like).

Panels will also include Design/Designers, Music/Musicians, Audience/Fans and Cultural Commentators/Histories, with an accompanying exhibition of Post Punk and New Wave graphic material curated by Russ Bestley. The event will take place at the London College of Communication, Elephant & Castle, London SE1 6SB and is jointly co-ordinated by the LCC Graphic Subcultures hub, Manchester Metropolitan University and the Punk Scholars Network.

Proposal abstracts should be emailed to Russ Bestley at r.bestley@lcc.arts.ac.uk by 1st April 2014

György Ligeti and the Future of Maverick Modernity

In celebration of its tenth season, the 2014 soundSCAPE Composition and Performance Exchange (artistic director, Nathanael May) is expanding its tradition of innovation and artistic experimentation to include a one-day conference on Ligeti, including special guest composer Lukas Ligeti, with a keynote address on the future of Ligeti’s Comic Legacies by James Currie. Since this is not a conventional academic event, but a constituent feature of a set of workshops and performances of contemporary music, we are particularly interested in papers that might interact with such live production and perhaps broaden their frame of reference.  With this in mind, we are particularly interested in papers that might address themes in Ligeti that resonate with the issues of our world: such as apocalypse, climate, free markets, machines and technology, the music of others, comedy/humor, systems, and the human and the animal.  As a kind of productive homage to Ligeti’s courageous maverick streak, we also encourage proposals for presentations that break the mold or reconfigure the academic music lecture per se, and welcome work not only from the world of academic music studies, but also other fields, including (but by no means limited to) sound studies, performance studies, comparative literature, poetics, media studies, philosophy and anthropology.

The conference will take place on July 14th, 2014 in Maccagno Italy, and further information about the soundSCAPE festival overall (July 4-17) can be found at www.soundSCAPEfestival.org.  All proposals are due by March 31st.  An abstract (300 words) and a short biography (200 words) should be sent in the body of an email (no attachments) to newmusic@soundscapefestival.org. Further inquiries may also be made to this email address.

Punk Scholars Network: First Annual Postgraduate Symposium

In Association with The University of Leicester and the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance

Punk Scholars Network: First Annual Postgraduate Symposium

The Punk Scholars Network’s first Annual Post-Graduate Symposium provides a national and international forum for postgraduates currently working/researching in the area of punk to meet, network and exchange ideas in an informal and colloquial environment.

The First Annual PSN Postgraduate Symposium will be hosted at the University of Leicester on 30th October 2014, and we invite both postgraduate and graduate students to submit proposals.

The programme will consist of a keynote speaker (tbc) and a number of thematically grouped panels where postgraduates can present work-in-progress papers on their PhD thesis, Master’s dissertation or graduate dissertation.

Each paper should last 20 minutes and proposals should be submitted in the form of an abstract of c.250 words. All proposal submissions should also include:

- Full title of the paper
- Full name, contact details and institutional affiliation
- Any requirements (projector, CD/DVD player, OHP, etc)

Deadline for receipt of proposals/abstracts is 31st July 2014

We hope that this conference will be inspiring to students in the area of punk studies and scholarship, and will provide an encouraging and informal environment to meet, discuss and disseminate ideas surrounding their research.

Proposals should be sent as e-mail attachments to Laura Way at lm300@le.ac.uk

Any queries to be directed to Laura Way (lm300@le.ac.uk) and Dr. Mike Dines (mike.dines@icmp.co.uk)

The conference programme will be announced in August 2014.

Contamination, Purity, Ownership: exploring interactions between dance and music

Practice Research Unit, at Kingston University
April 3rd, 2014,
Coombehurst Studio, admission free.

The Practice Research Unit welcomes proposals for papers considering the interactions between creators in dance and music. In particular we welcome proposals that include examples of practice on video or by live performance. Presentations will normally last for 20 minutes but duration is open to negotiation for those including examples of practice.

Keynote Address/Performances will be announced on the website. http://fass.kingston.ac.uk/pru/

Proposals including a 300 word abstract can be sent to Dr Tim Ewers t.ewers@kingston.ac.uk . Proposals will be assessed by the conference team, including Jason Piper, Tim Ewers and the directors of the Practice Research Unit Helen Julia Minors and John Mullarkey.

Deadline for submission is Friday March 14th 2014.

South African Society for Research in Music (SASRIM) Eighth Annual Congress

Invitation and Call for Papers

SOUTH AFRICAN SOCIETY FOR RESEARCH IN MUSIC (SASRIM) EIGHTH ANNUAL CONGRESS

University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg 12-14 September 2014

SASRIM cordially invites you to its 2014 annual congress to be held at the University of the Witwatersrand.

The keynote speaker will be well-known music education specialist Lucy Green from the Institute of Education at the University of London.

Submissions are invited on any research related to music. Presentations will be accepted solely on the basis of their quality, and not on their subject matter or approach. SASRIM hopes that the conference in this way will stimulate the submission of a wide variety of proposals, including those that may cross the boundaries of conventionally segregated disciplines and thereby offer new perspectives.

We extend a special invitation to students to submit proposals and use the conference as a forum for networking and their development. Students whose proposals are accepted may apply to SASRIM for limited financial support.

SASRIM invites proposals for

  • papers (20 minutes for presentation and 10 minutes for response)
  • lecture-demonstrations (45 minutes for presentation and 15 minutes for response)
  • panel discussions (45 minutes for presentations and 15 minutes for responses)
  • study group sessions (90 minutes, i.e. 3 presentations by different presenters and responses)
  • poster sessions

Proposals for all presentations, lecture-demonstrations and poster sessions must include

  • an abstract with title (maximum 300 words)
  • biographical information and contact detail of presenter(s) (maximum 50 words)
  • audio-visual or display requirements

Proposals for panel discussions and study group sessions must include

  • an explanation of the topic and a structure for its discussion (maximum 400 words)
  • a list of all members as well as their institutional affiliation and contact details
  • audio-visual requirements

Proposals must be submitted to secretary@sasrim.ac.za by no later than 15 April 2013.

Lucy Green is Professor of Music Education, Institute of Education, University of London. She is a leading music education specialist, with a focus on the philosophy and sociology of music education, particularly musical identities. She is the author of five single-author books and her work has significantly influenced the thinking about musical learning and pedagogy,  particularly how the learning practices of popular musicians can inform and change formal learning (e.g. Music, Informal Learning and the School and How Popular Musicians Learn).

Phone: +27 (012) 429 6662 – Fax: 086 525 3704
Email: secretary@sasrim.ac.za
Conference Website: http://sasrim2014.wordpress.com/

 

Charles Dibdin and his World

Call for Papers: Charles Dibdin and His World
University of Notre Dame London Centre
1 Suffolk Street, London, England
28-29 November 2014

2014 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Charles Dibdin (1745-1814), perhaps the most versatile and talented actor, musician, playwright, and songwriter of the 18th and 19th centuries. Across his career Dibdin played the organ at St Bride’s in Fleet Street, collaborated with Isaac Bickerstaff on comic operas, acted at Drury Lane, Covent Garden and numerous other theatres throughout Britain, was director of music at Ranelagh Gardens, performed in blackface as Mungo in his opera The Padlock, translated French opera, opened his own theatre (twice), went to debtor’s prison, toured the country with a one man show, opened a publishing warehouse, wrote novels, memoirs, and a history of the English stage, published three music text books, and composed several thousand songs.

In addition, Dibdin’s sea songs were central to establishing the Royal Navy as the mainstay of British patriotism, in spite of mutiny, sedition, and the press-gang, playing a significant role in uniting a fractious nation after the upheavals of the 1790s. Charles’ private endeavours were also prolific. Family members included his daughter Ann Dibdin Dacre, a talented artist who provided illustrations for Dibdin’s Memoirs. His affair with the actress and dancer Harriet Pitt (1748?-1814) resulted in a daughter, and two sons: Charles Isaac Mungo Dibdin (1768-1833), who staged spectacular mock-sea battles in his aquatic theatre at Sadler’s Wells; and Thomas Dibdin (1771-1841), opera librettist, poet, composer and author of numerous theatre-pieces including Harlequin and Humpo, between them continuing their father’s legacy into the nineteenth century.

Such diverse careers touch on almost all aspects of musical and theatrical culture in the late Georgian period, and demand a truly interdisciplinary approach. The premise of this conference is that understanding the life and work of the Dibdin family necessitates a re-examination of the wider world of performance and literary culture of which they were so integral a part. To this end we invite proposals for papers in any discipline on any aspect of the life and work of Charles Dibdin and his family, or that illuminate the world of this subversive, patriotic, irascible, and gloriously anarchic writer and performer.

Topics might include:

Patriotism, propaganda and performance
Orientalism and the staging of empire
Blackface and representations of race
Legitimate and illegitimate theatre
Celebrity, biography, reputation
Gender and the public sphere
Performance practices
The one-man show
Music and morality
Genre and composition
Origins of the music-hall
Book history and broadsides
Theatrical and musical economies
Music markets, copyright and piracy
Forms of writing: the novel and the song
Provincial and metropolitan entertainments

The conference will be in a workshop format consisting of a series of roundtable discussions of pre-circulated papers. Dinner, accommodation, and a performance of Dibdin’s songs will be provided for all participants. Papers will be circulated by 14 November 2014. These will form the basis of a collection of essays placing Dibdin in his world, providing new ways to conceive of the relationships between legitimate and illegitimate theatre, elite and popular entertainment, and provincial and metropolitan performance. Abstracts (max 500 words) for 3-5,000 word papers should be sent with a short biography to Dibdin200@gmail.com by 26 May 2014.

For more information please contact the organisers Oskar Cox Jensen (King’s College London), David Kennerley (Oxford) and Ian Newman (Notre Dame) at Dibdin200@gmail.com.

This conference forms part of the ERC-funded project ‘Music in London, 1800-1851’, led by Professor Roger Parker, King’s College London, with support from the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts at the University of Notre Dame.

Dreams of Germany – Music and (Trans)national Imaginaries in the Modern Era

Deadline for Paper Proposals: 30 April 2014 to dreamsofgermany at gmail dot com
Venue: German Historical Institute, London, 5-7 February 2015
Keynote Speakers: Celia Applegate (Vanderbilt); Berthold Hoeckner (Chicago).
Convenors: Andreas Gestrich (GHIL), Neil Gregor (Southampton), Tom Irvine (Southampton)

Conference website: http://dreamsofgermany.wordpress.com/

Celia Applegate and Pamela Potter’s groundbreaking collection of essays on ‘Music and German National Identity’ sought to map both the historical terrain on which the notion of Germans as ‘the people of music’ was constituted and an intellectual terrain on which that trope might be fruitfully historicised. In this conference, we seek to revisit these questions and explore the problem space further in the light of approaches that have emerged in the meantime. In working with the rubric of ‘dreams’ we seek to acknowledge both the visceral qualities of a set of imaginaries that cannot be reduced to a corresponding set of politics, but work also independently of them, and the presence of a recognizably German set of histories for which the vocabulary of dreams (fantasies, projections, recollections, nightmares) provides an equally recognizable metaphorical language.

We invite papers on all aspects of modern musical culture that would sit meaningfully inside the rubric ‘Dreams of Germany’, for example:

How does class function in relation to musical Germanness?
How might Germany as a musical construct be inflected by gender?
To what extent do declarations of musical Germanness exclude or embrace registers other than ‘art or ‘E-Musik’?
How did young Germans (the Jugendmusikbewegung, the generation of the ‘Stunde Null’ and the ‘1968ers’) dream of their music?
How did emigrants and other outsiders from Edward Dannreuther to Theodor W Adorno to (the Austrian) Falco (‘Rock me Amadeus’) imagine German music and musical culture?
How did music function in conceptions/dreams of the German colonial mission, and how did and do ideas of Germany as a musical nation play in non-colonial contexts such as Britain, Japan, Latin America, the United States and Israel/Palestine?
To what extent were cultural politics post-1989 inflected by ideas of a specifically German national music?

For further details or queries please contact Neil Gregor or Tom Irvine at dreamsofgermany at gmail dot com

The College of Organists examined: the foundation and early history of the RCO

The College of Organists examined: the foundation and early history of the RCO
(RCO Spring Festival in Oxford, part 2)
Saturday 12th April 2014 (10:00 – 18:00)
Oxford
To mark the RCO’s 150th anniversary, this one-day conference in Oxford (at Somerville and Keble Colleges) on 12 April will examine the environment which led to the foundation of the College of Organists in 1864, and investigate the preoccupations of the College’s  founding fathers and early members as they established a professional body for British organists, which eventually earned a Royal Charter in 1893. It will feature a recital by Graham Barber at Keble College.

For information on online booking scroll down to the bottom of the page.

The Royal College of Organists is working in partnership with The Open University.

The speakers are:
Prof. Graham Barber (Leeds University): Organ playing and organ composition in late-19th-century Britain
Dr Martin Clarke (The Open University): ‘Loud organs, his glory forth tell in deep tone’: the interaction of music, liturgy and theology in mid-19th-century Britain
Timothy Day (Hereford): Where did the English treble come from?
Dr Rosemary Golding (The Open University): Being an organist in mid-nineteenth century
Britain
Peter Horton (Royal College of Music): The road to Olympus: the early careers of
four contrasting early-Victorian organists
Andrew McCrea (Royal College of Organists): The foundation of the College of
Organists and its early initiatives
The Revd Dr Nicholas Thistlethwaite (Guildford Cathedral): Organ design in the
1860s and instruments associated with the founders
David Wright (Tunbridge Wells): ‘Middle-classing’ the music profession in Victorian
Britain
Registration from 9.45 at Somerville College (Margaret Thatcher Centre)
Recital by Graham Barber at Keble College Chapel at 13.45
Lectures conclude at 17.45

THE COLLEGE OF ORGANISTS EXAMINED–BOOKING INFORMATION
Fees (including morning coffee, light lunch, recital attendance and afternoon tea):
RCO Easter Course Member: £40
RCO Member: £50
Non-Member: £55
RCO Student Member: £30
Other full time students: £40
Overnight Bed & Breakfast (B&B) accommodation at Merton College, Friday 11
April: £67 (standard room); £86 (en-suite room)
Book online at: www.rco.org.uk (see RCO Academy/Courses and Events)
URL: http://www.rco.org.uk/events.php?eventid=328
If you have a problem with the on-line booking system please call RCO Bookings on
05603 488231.