The River Cam
So it’s hard to believe that I still haven’t blogged about my time in Cambridge last August, but that is how this year has been going. I’ve been very busy in mostly good, musically satisfying ways, and now it’s time to catch up on reporting about all that good, musically satisfying activity, so here goes!
From August 8-August 12 I was at Churchill College, Cambridge where I co-directed a symposium and festival hosted by the Centre for Intercultural Musicology at Churchill College, which is directed by Akin Euba, Emeritus Professor of Music at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Euba was one of my first professors when I began my graduate studies at Pitt. His course on creative ethnomusicology was one of the formative experiences of my time in grad school and I was also very fortunate to have him on my dissertation committee.
Named for Winston Churchill, Churchill College is by far the newest and most modern of the Cambridge University Colleges, and it's reflected in the public art on the campus.
The theme of the symposium and festival at CIMACC was titled Bridging Musicology and Composition: the Golbal Impact of Bartók’s Method. Dr. Dr. László Vikárius was the keynote speaker which was amazing. As the director of the Bartók Archive in Budapest, Dr. Vikárius has an encyclopedic knowledge of Bartók’s influences, methods and contributions. It was a real privilege to learn from this brilliant and gracious man.
Seminars were held in the Fellows Dining Hall which is decorated by a numbered Warhol print. It was like being back in Pittsburgh!
Since this was both a symposium and festival, there were papers and performances, all of which dealt with how Bartók’s integration of research into traditional music with his creative output continues to influence composition today. I gave a paper titled “Intercultural Music Through Collaboration: Case Studies in an Emerging Compositional Trend” in which I discussed various collaborative processes for creating new music ranging from the Imani Winds, to Fred Ho, Ravish Momin, and Patrick Burke/Emily Pinkerton. The paper was well received and I got some very helpful feedback.
Akin Euba makes a point during one of the seminars.
I was also fortunate to get a fine performance from Roger Zahab and Rob Frankenberry of my 1997 duo for violin and piano, Emergence, a piece in which I derived the rhythms in the driving second movement from my experiences with djimbe drumming. Emergence is an oldy but a goody. I still am very fond of the piece all these years later, and I still want the meditative first movement to be played at my funeral, just not any time soon. It was a good fit for that event and my UK debut to boot!
Violinist Roger Zahab and pianist Rob Frankenberry Perform Emergence at Churchill College.
I’m reasonably sure it will be a long time before I attempt to direct an international conference again (for a lot of reasons!). What a huge amount of effort involved in communicating with everyone in advance, finalizing the program, and adjusting for the inevitable schedule changes that occur when visas don’t make it through, flights are delayed, or someone falls ill! But in the end, everything came together, attendees had a positive experience, and in some small way, what we do at CIMACC helps to push at the boundaries and break down barriers of how we think about composing. It’s a privilege to have played a role in such a forward-looking event.
Outside the Recital Hall at Churchill