Bootleg Opera and Pirate Queens

Workshop-Conference at the Bern University of the Arts, 2–4 September 2020

During the conference the Bern University of the Arts will present the Ehrenreich-Collection of opera recordings, a collection of over 2000 reel-to-reel tapes comprising around 10’000 hours of private bootleg recordings made between 1965 and 2010 at the major opera venues in New York by the self-proclaimed “pirate queen” Leroy Allan Ehrenreich (1929–2016). The conference aims to bring this singular collection into dialogue with similar collections worldwide, providing a valuable opportunity of contextualising and exploring the identities, networks, practices, voices and emotions involved in amateur bootleg recording in the second half of the twentieth century. Ideas and initiatives for further research projects around the collection are welcome.

For this workshop we invite scholars to propose research papers relating to relevant topics within and beyond the Ehrenreich Collection. (Submission until 18 February 2020)
Proposals discussing one or several of the following topics are welcome:
1. identity (bootlegging, collecting practice, repertoire, venues, gender, sexuality, networks, etc.)
2. materiality (recording technology, preservation, digitization, etc.)
3. audio analysis and performance practice (live recorded singers, operatic performance, audience sounds, recording time and space, etc.)
4. reception and pedagogy (audience reception, live recordings as pedagogical tools, intended and perceived emotions, etc.)
5. diffusion (accessibility, data bases, legal status, citizen science, etc.)

More information on

Beethoven and the Piano – Philology, Context and Performance Practice

Lugano, Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana, 4–6 November 2020

Organised by the Bern University of the Arts (HKB) and the Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano
With the scientific support of the Beethoven-Haus, Bonn, and of the Italian Musicological Society

The conference-festival on Beethoven’s keyboard music and its historically informed performing practice will take place as part of the celebrations for the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth. The lectures will focus on three main topics:

  • philology (examination of printed editions, manuscripts, sketches)
  • context (organology, contemporary reception, publishing market)
  • and most importantly, contemporary performing practice (relationship between notation and performing practice, dynamics, pedalling, metronome marks, rhythmic flexibility, embellishments, improvisation, etc.).

Keynote speakers
Christine Siegert (Beethoven-Archiv, Bonn)
Barry Cooper (University of Manchester)
Tom Beghin (Orpheus Institute, Gent)
Clive Brown (professor emeritus, University of Leeds)
Michael Ladenburger (former head of the museum and custodian of the collections, Beethoven-Haus, Bonn)

Call for Papers
Paper proposals are accepted until 15 September. For details, see the Call for Papers.

Further Information
The conference will be accompanied by two concerts and will be covered by the Radio della Svizzera Italiana. The publication of the proceedings will follow soon after the conference. All information on travel, venue and accommodation, as well as the definitive programme of the conference, will be published in due course on this website. Depending on the financial situation, the organisers hope to contribute to travel and accommodation costs of those speakers who have no other sources of support.

The conference will be preceded by two masterclasses with Alfredo Bernardini and Tom Beghin. For details on the musical programme of the masterclasses, the evening concerts, and the student concerts, please visit the CSI website.

“From Field to Fiddle” – historical gut strings in production and performance

International Conference: Bern University of the Arts, 19./20. November 2019

Gut strings are at the center of musical sound production and play a vital role in historical performance on all bowed instruments as well as on plucked instruments. However, materiality and craftsmanship have a great impact on the performance of gut strings. Few people realize that strings made of cow gut, such as are widespread today, differ fundamentally in their physical and performance properties from those made of sheep gut, which were the standard up until the middle of the 20th century.

The Bern research project on historical sheep gut strings ( explores string making processes as well as performance qualities from the perspective of German sources of the period 1750–1950. The conference aims to place the new findings in an international context by bringing together researchers, string makers, musicians and their audiences.

Further conference contributions focusing on gut string making both from historical and modern-day perspectives are very welcome and can be submitted until 1 July 2019 to and who are available for further information as well.

Keynote: Patrizio Barbieri (Rome): “Gut-string making and its connections with music performance, organology, and international trading: some basic considerations”

For updates on the conference please check the website

Pop – Power – Positions

Global Relations and Popular Music
3rd IASPM D-A-CH Symposium

Bern (Switzerland), 18–20 October 2018

In Nigeria, the high pressure to follow the copyright rules of the globalized pop music market restrains the use of samples in hip hop culture. In Egypt, young musicians have no credit cards, leaving them without access to the online music market. In Europe, second and third generation migrants discuss their non-European backgrounds and European identities in songs and tracks. And U.S.-produced Korean pop music (K-Pop) increasingly rivals Korean-produced K-Pop in its concern for authentic presentation.
Issues of power, position, access, and representation have shaped the production, distribution, and reception of popular music and continue to do so today. The three-day interdisciplinary conference Pop – Power – Positions highlights popular music’s embeddedness in a global world. It seeks to uncover and scrutinize the risks, challenges, and potentials of power structures, positioning, and (re)presentations in popular music. The analysis of global, postcolonial structures plays a central role in this endeavour. To date, however, music– and popular music in particular – has only rarely been studied using postcolonial perspectives.
Postcolonialism refers not only to the historical fact of colonialism and its political, geographical, cultural, and economic impact on the countries and regions involved. Rather, postcolonial studies deal with all aspects of cultural diversity, ethnic and cultural difference, and their related power structures. Colonialism as well as postcolonialism refer to hierarchies that are enacted and produced through the construction of the Other and bring about and enforce debateable concepts of representation such as gender, race, ethnic group, nation, class, and culture. In this regard, the effects of (post)colonialism can be detected not only in former colonialized and colonising countries and regions, but also in those which at first sight do not have a colonial heritage, for example Switzerland.
From its beginnings, popular music has been produced and performed in and within (post)colonial (power) structures. Postcolonial traces are, according to Johannes Ismaiel-Wendt, inherent in any popular music (2011). Current productions of popular music in different countries show that (post)colonial conditions live on in popular music, especially in a globalised world, and that musicians as well as recipients react in various ways to this situation.
The conference focuses on (global) power relations and representations of race, cultural difference, ethnicity, gender, class, and nation, including the changes and subversive strategies these may involve. Ethnographic and analytical studies of popular music in and from (former) colonised countries and regions are also welcome.

We invite papers that address the following range of topics and questions:
– Who speaks in popular music? What kinds of power structures shape the production, distribution, and reception of popular music? What is the impact of the Anglophone music business on other music markets? Who speaks about popular music in the areas of marketing, advertising, journalism, fan cultures, (global) politics, and educational institutions – and what vocabulary do they use?
– Have digitalisation and digital networks led to a democratisation of musical processes, or the contrary?
– What sounds and music(s) are processed in what contexts by whom and how, and to what aim? How does the use of certain sounds/music(s) point to existing power relations, dependencies, and availability?
– What role do geographies and geopolitics play in popular music-making? How do geography, world order, and power structures relate?
– In what ways can popular music exist beyond cultural, ethnic, and national geographies? What role does the relation between the Global North and Global South have in popular music?
– How do structures of power and distribution limit the access to the production and reception of popular music?
– What relevance, usability, and impact do technologies (like Digital Audio Workstations) or legal regulations (like the copyright laws) that have been developed in Western contexts have for popular music? In what ways are (post)colonial structures and power relations (re)produced therein?
– What kinds of representations do musicians use for their marketing? What traits are ascribed to music?
– What potential does popular music hold for detecting and changing (or enforcing) colonial and postcolonial power structures?
– How can postcolonial theories be made fruitful for an up-to-date understanding of popular music?
– How do musicians of different forms of popular music process a „(post)colonial experience of the world” („(post)koloniales Welterleben“, Ismaiel-Wendt) in their music?
Popular Music Studies
– How marginalised are specific popular musics within the history of popular music?
– Should or can we write a Global History of Popular Music?
– In what way is the concept of popular music in itself (post)colonial?
– What hierarchies, asymmetries or restraints can be found in inter-/transdisciplinary Popular Music Studies?

Keynote: Dr Jenny Fatou Mbaye (City University London)

Contributions on popular music that lie outside the scope of these topic areas are
welcome and will be considered if possible.

Call in GermanCall in English

Please email your abstract to by 28 February 2018

More information:

Fifth International Romantic Brass Symposium

Tuesday 20 November – Thursday 22 November 2018 in Biel/Bienne (Switzerland)
Held by by Bern University of the Arts (HKB)

The well-established Romantic Brass Symposia in Bern present current research on brass instruments. They concentrate on music of the ‘long 19th century’ (1789–1914). After conferences on the keyed trumpet and the ophicleide, French horns, the materiality of brass instruments, the saxhorn, and conservation of played historical instruments, this fifth edition highlights the trombone as well as materiality and acoustics of brass instruments in general. It is held in collaboration with the Historic Brass Society. Keynotes will be given by Anneke Scott, Trevor Herbert and Stewart Carter, and the symposium will be accompanied by a concert with soloist Ian Bousfield (trombone).

We call for papers and concert lectures on all topics of brass instruments of the long 19th century, including repertoire, history, instrument making as well as reproducing, acoustics, and materiality. Contributions on the trombone are especially welcome.
Papers should not be longer than 20 minutes (followed by 10 minutes for discussion); shorter presentations (10’ + 5’ discussion) are equally welcome. The official language for the conference is English.

Submission until 1 April 2018 to daniel.allenbach(at), further information on