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Cathy Berberian: Pioneer of Contemporary Vocality and Performance

Amsterdam, April 2006

ASCA International Congress, Amsterdam
Cathy Berberian: Pioneer of Contemporary Vocality and Performance

"Music is the air I breathe and the planet I inhabit.
The only way I can pay my debt to music is
by bringing it to others, with all my love."
			Cathy Berberian (February 1983)

Date:			27 and 28 April 2006           
Location:		University Theater, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, Amsterdam
Organisation:		Musicology Department, University of Amsterdam
Target audience:  	Researchers from various disciplines in the Humanities,
			teachers and students from conservatories,
			composers, students in the Humanities, performing
			vocalists and non-academics with an interest in
			contemporary vocal music.

This International Congress presents a variety of approaches to the
cultural legacy of Cathy Berberian (1925-1983) from various disciplines in
the Humanities. Berberian was an extraordinary vocal performance artist, a
cant'actrice, who broke with musical conventions and found 'unheard' ways
of bringing the voice to meaningful expressions. Her invaluable legacy and
contribution to the development of (electro-)vocal music calls for an
interdisciplinary approach.

Cathy Berberian did not accept the traditional dichotomy between 'high'
and 'low' music and constantly strived for cross-overs with pop culture
and folk music. She had a big influence on many avant-garde composers and
vocal/theatrical performers after 1950. A muse and an inspiratrice, she
remained in the shadows of the composers and the authors with whom she
collaborated. This solicits a discussion on the status of the performing
musician as (co-)author, and on the differentiation between score and
vocality/theatricality, as well as the gender aspects involved.

This venue brings Berberian's pioneering work to the foreground through
lectures and discussions, and attempts to place it in a broader historical
context of contemporary vocality and musical performance art. Guest
speakers are among others Berberian's daughter Cristina Berio, composers
Sylvano Bussotti, Louis Andriessen and Reinbert de Leeuw, voice teacher
Carol Plantamura and biographers Marie Christine Vila and David
Osmond-Smith. Further, the award-winning documentary on Cathy Berberian
'Music Is The Air I Breathe' (1994) by Carrie de Swaan will be shown, as
well as unpublished archive materials of various performances. A photo
exhibition with work of Maria Austria and a concert with Kristin Norderval
(Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, 28 April) will close the program.

We invite proposals for papers dealing with the cultural legacy of Cathy
Berberian and issues of contemporary vocality. We welcome contributions
surrounding the following topics:

-          the work of Cathy Berberian;
-          work of other contemporary vocalists (related to Cathy Berberian);
-          theoretical issues of contemporary vocality;
-          other related issues or vocal works.

Research proposals about Cathy Berberian receive priority!

We kindly ask you to send us your proposal with biography and publication
list no later than 1st of November 2005 to Carla Brünott:

If you want to be kept updated on the Congress' schedule, please visit our

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