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Music and the Idea of the North

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CALL FOR PAPERS:   Music and the Idea of the North
6-7 September 2008

Sullivan Room, Leeds Town Hall

A conference to mark the 150th anniversary of the opening of Leeds Town Hall, hosted by:
The Institute of Northern Studies, Leeds Metropolitan University
Leeds University Centre for English Music (LUCEM), University of Leeds
Leeds University Centre for Canadian Studies
Leeds International Concert Season
Opera North

On 6 September 1858, Queen Victoria travelled to Leeds by rail to open the new town hall, built to an ambitious prize-winning design by the young Hull architect Cuthbert Brodrick.  In the festivities which unfolded over her two-day visit, music played a prominent role, from the 32,000 Sunday-school children who sang hymns as the procession passed, to the massed choral forces which delivered the Hallelujah Chorus at the climax of the ceremony itself.  In the decades that followed, Leeds Town Hall became one of the most widely recognised emblems of civic pride in the north of England, and a prestigious venue for the festival premières of works such as Edward Elgar’s Caractacus, William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, and Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Sea Symphony

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the opening of the town hall, LUCEM and the Institute of Northern Studies present a two-day conference addressing connections between music and global northern identities: how does music express ideas of ‘the north’ and ‘northerliness’, and how have musical cultures been shaped by the dynamics of north vs south?  Papers are invited on any aspect of music and the north, but are particularly encouraged on the following themes:

  • music and northern landscapes
  • northern venues and institutions for music
  • regional variation in audiences, markets, and consumption of music
  • musical tensions between north and south (within nations, regions, cities, etc.)
  • cultural policy and regeneration
  • comparative studies of music in northern centres
  • music and ethnic-minority communities
  • popular, folk, and traditional musics
  • northern styles and genres
  • music, industrialisation, and civic identity
  • music, politics, and radicalism

Proposals (up to 200 words) for papers of c. 20 minutes’ duration should be sent by 31 March 2008 to the programme committee at leedsmusicnorth@gmail.com:
Professor Tony Collins, Leeds Metropolitan University
Dr Rachel Cowgill, University of Leeds
Professor Dave Russell, Leeds Metropolitan University
Professor Derek Scott, University of Leeds

Our keynote speakers will be:
Professor Sherrill E. Grace, University of British Columbia, author of Canada and the Idea of North
(McGill-Queen's University Press, 2001)
                Professor Peter Davidson, University of Aberdeen, author of The Idea of North (Reaktion, 2005)  

Further details will be posted on the LUCEM and Institute of Northern Studies websites in due course:

In addition, a concert in the town hall is scheduled for the evening of 6 September - details to be announced shortly - and the conference will conclude with a discussion and performance by composer Gavin Bryars.


‘O tell her, Swallow, thou that knowest each,
That bright and fierce and fickle is the South,
And dark and true and tender is the North’
~ Alfred Lord Tennyson, The Princess

‘Every planet has a north’ ~ Dr Who (BBCTV)

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