i’ve decided that since it’s so difficult for me to really sit down and type blog entries at length that i’m going to start writing more composite posts (i must credit my boyfriend for this idea because yes i DO read his blog…) so here we go.
AMS/SMT 2010 Indianapolis
so this year i found myself in the very flat city of Indianapolis for the annual AMS conference. every two years, the conference becomes a joint one with the Society for Music Theory, which then of course swells the ranks by quite a fair amount. of course, i always joke about picking out the theorists from the musicologists (their bow ties are usually made of cotton as opposed to silk) but they make the conference interesting. as per usual, i missed the Amusicology party (i was stranded in Chicago, naturally) but made up for it by attending my fair share of receptions. (and i must say, i was really pleased with the number of prospective students at the Columbia reception though i’m sure that Walter Frisch was not pleased with how many times i brought people up to him) i didn’t attend as many papers as i would have liked as i became increasingly more sick (something from which i’m still recovering) but the ones i did attend and heard about were quite intriguing.
one of my favorite parts of the conference is the luncheon given by the Committee on Cultural Diversity. this was my entry into the world of AMS though i had been a student member for quite some time. in 2008, i received the Eileen Southern Travel Grant which paid for my trip to the AMS conference and introduced me to people i considered quite influential. so attending the luncheon and seeing the new crop of musicologists-to-be was very encouraging. let’s just say that diversity is not something that comes easily to AMS and it’s something i look to be a part of changing over the years.
i can only talk about the conference because, honestly, Indianapolis was not a destination of choice. it was cold, it hailed and all the streets look exactly the same. but the wine is cheap!
there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
today, at work, i found myself amidst a philosophical debate about music. it was strange. the break room at an Apple store is really not the place. but then, i thought about it and you know what? everywhere is the place. there are those who are satisfied with the definition of “something with aesthetic value” summing up the whole of their musical experience. that’s what music is, end of story. and maybe i’m in too deep but that always seemed like an unfair definition to me. it’s part and parcel with the whole idea that art has to have socially redeeming value and bring something to our lives, usually something of beauty. i think art, especially music, is in the unique position of showing us the ugly, naked, difficult and sublime. so much of music is self-described torment and it’s that torment with which we identify. now i’ll be honest, i don’t go around listening to 4’33” all day but i will say that when Apple released the piece as its free download of the day (it was an April fool’s joke) that not only was i amused but i was intrigued by the amount of ire it caused. and i DO go around listening to Stockhausen’s Gesang der Junglinge because i think it’s haunting and ethereal — even if it is electronic.
the comments on this youtube clip of Gesang de Junglinge describe the very conversation i was having today. and if i like this and think this is music, not because of some deep seeded intellectualism/elitism but because i really do like it and it speaks to me, what does that make me?
i guess it’s time for me to write about this since it’s been on my mind all day since yesterday…Casey Butler, a young freshman bassoonist at Peabody, died yesterday after passing out in her bassoon lesson. this has affected me on so many levels that it has astounded me, to be honest. first of all, the Peabody community is a small one and incredibly insular. something like this is felt immediately, even to those who are no longer in Baltimore. and for me, it’s even more personal in the fact that this is my studio, she was my colleague and a student of my teacher. this may be bias but i always considered the bassoon studio to be one of the closest at Peabody and my heart aches for my dear friends and my teacher. they held a memorial for her tonight and i’m sure it was an incredibly emotional experience.
on a personal note, i know what it’s like to lose someone close when they’re young and i’ve always felt like there’s nothing like the death of a teenager. death, of course, is never an easy thing to deal with but seeing a life so filled with hope and promise be taken away seems unjust in so many ways. no one believes it could be your friend, at a time in life when you feel invincible. i think that’s the thing that gets me the most and there’s nothing you can do about it. there’s a poignancy in that that’s inescapable.
my heart goes out to Casey’s family and of course to the Peabody community — my family.
(for more info, check here http://www.peabody.jhu.edu/4598)