Just in time for summer reading, Prof. Marian Wilson Kimber has published two articles.
“Miss Austen Plays Pleyel: An Additional Source for the Jane Austen Family Music Collection?” explores the provenance of a volume of accompanied sonatas by Ignaz Pleyel held in the Arthur and Miriam Cantor Rare Book Room of Iowa’s Rita Benton Music Library. The six sonatas, which sport a red label with the words “Miss Austen” on the cover, date from around 1800 and may have belonged to a member of the famous author’s extended family. Wilson Kimber described how her discovery of the volume resulted from two courses she has taught at Iowa in “Jane Austen in the Age of Digital Discovery.”
Wilson Kimber’s second article, “Reciting Parsifal: Opera as Spoken Word Performance in America,” uncovers an unusual performance practice that took place in turn-of-the-century America: the adaptation of operas for spoken word recitals with music. Often performed by female elocutionists, the works most commonly heard in this manner were those by Richard Wagner and Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Partly a literary, less theatrical substitution for staged opera, while at the same time an educational tool that allowed audiences to come to terms with foreign language performances, spoken word recitals made opera more intimate so that it might be absorbed into women’s salon culture.
Both articles are currently freely available on Project Muse:
“Miss Austen Plays Pleyel: An Additional Source for the Jane Austen Family Music Collection?”Fontes Artis Musicae 67, no. 1 (January-March 2020): 1–17.
“Reciting Parsifal: Opera as Spoken Word Performance in America,” American Music 38, no. 1 (Spring 2020): 4-28.
As we work from home and reckon with COVID-19 in a thousand different ways, it may help to recollect the activities of the previous month, when “social” was not inevitably paired with “distancing.”
The graduate students in musicology, theory, and composition collaborated beautifully through their hosting of the 2020 Midwest Graduate Music Consortium. The conference drew together researchers, composers, and performers from around the country. Keynote speaker Dr. Naomi André (University of Michigan) offered a thoughtful and hopeful talk titled “Engaging Opera as Popular Culture and Social Justice.” The conversation throughout the weekend was robust; the concert performances, provocative; the catered refreshments, rejuvenating. Kudos to the entire cohort that made the event so memorable, with special thanks to Ryne Carlson, Dr. Hang Nguyen, Arthur Scoleri, Alexis Tuttle, Monica Yost, Zachary Meier, Ramin Roshandel, Wenxin Li, Mark Rheaume, and Cody Norling.
James Dean channels his inner musician in this magazine image found by Anastasia. Dean convinced director Elia Kazan to hire Leonard Rosenman, Dean’s former roommate, to score East of Eden.
Nathan Platte and undergraduate researcher Anastasia Scholze cohosted a mini-course at FilmScene titled “Contenders and Composers of the Fifties.” The sold-out series featured four films that paired iconic antiheroes of the screen with composers writing their first Hollywood film score (On the Waterfront, East of Eden, I Want to Live!, and Odds Against Tomorrow). The weekly meetings included introductory remarks on each film, a screening, and impassioned group discussion. Before sheltering in place became necessary, Nathan enjoyed running into community members from the course around town. We eagerly await the time when such happy encounters are again possible.
The Plymouth United Church of Christ in Des Moines recently hosted Dr. Suhadolnik as a featured speaker in their study group devoted to The New York Times’ 1619 Project. By marking the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery, the 1619 Project hosts essays and podcasts that contemplate slavery’s manifold social, cultural, and economic consequences. Sarah’s discussion on American popular music shared a program with performances from Tina Haase Findlay, local jazz artist, guitarist Brandon Findlay, and the Bridges 2 Harmony Gospel Choir.
Dr. Matthew Arndt has just gotten back to Iowa City after spending the summer and fall months conducting new research and contributing to workshops. In June he taught musicianship and composition at the first Orthodox Music Masterclass at the Holy Resurrection Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in Chicago, led by Peter Jermihov and sponsored by the Society of St. Romanos the Melodist. The masterclass is the first in North America to focus on new music for the Orthodox Church. He will teach there again this year.
Pictured: Arndt (front right) with musicianship students
In July 2019, using a University of Iowa Arts and Humanities Initiative grant, Arndt attended a two-week singing workshop in western Georgia led by master chanter and singer Malkhaz Erkvanidze, learning chants and folk songs. He had a chance to visit Shemokmedi Monastery, the home of Shemokmedi School chant, a special interest of his. He also learned about chant manuscripts and interviewed another master chanter.
Pictured: Arndt (back left) with workshop students and Erkvanidze (front right)
In the fall, using a University of Iowa Career Development Award, Arndt began a corpus study of western Georgian chant using scans of manuscripts and edited transcriptions to learn about a chant concept called k’ilo, which has been translated as mode, but which might be translated as dialect. This work is cross-pollinating ongoing theoretical work on musical form drawing on the theories of Arnold Schoenberg.
Ethnomusicology Today, a podcast produced and hosted at UI by Dr. Trevor Harvey, is featured in an article published the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Journalist Isaac Hamlet interviews Trevor and his undergraduate research fellow, Miranda Henry, to offer an overview of the podcast’s history at Iowa (going strong since 2015). In addition to providing an opportunity for undergraduate research, the podcast helps connect a wide array of listeners to new research in music scholarship. Check out the latest episode, which features coverage and discussion of special events programmed for the Society for Ethnomusicology’s annual meeting, below.
This post is an unabashed grab bag of timely updates. Enjoy!
First, we are honored to have alumna Dr. Jama Stilwell (Cornell College) back on campus for an Obermann Center Humanities for the Public Good symposium this upcoming Friday (November 1). The symposium brings back Ph.D. alumni to share reflections on their careers in academia and beyond. Information about the symposium may be found here (registration is free), and Jama’s discussion panel will be from 2:45-4:00.
Next, Ph.D. candidate Megan Small took time to collaborate again with music librarian Katie Buehner on two new orchestra-related videos. The videos where shown to Iowa City elementary students before their field trip to Voxman for a concert with the symphony orchestra. The videos cover a lot of ground: in addition to offering engaging previews of the featured music, they also include a primer on conducting an orchestra (some students enjoyed time on the podium). A concert etiquette guide for the young in heart is included here:
Third, Prof. Nathan Platte recently published a brief reflection on his study of Hollywood scripts and other film-related materials held in the special collections of Simpson College and the University of Iowa. The article was featured on the UI Libraries’ and Rita Benton Music Library’ main pages, and may be enjoyed here.
The 24th annual Midwest Graduate Music Consortium will be hosted here at Voxman, March 6-7, 2020. The website for the conference and the call for papers and scores is now live! Learn more about the conference here and the process for submitting paper proposals and scores here.
MGMC is a joint venture organized by graduate students from the University of Chicago, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Northwestern University, and the University of Iowa that promotes the presentation of original research and the composition of new music by graduate and advanced undergraduate students. The Midwest Graduate Music Consortium invites paper and performance submissions for its upcoming conference. We welcome proposals pertaining broadly to topics falling under the disciplinary classifications of music studies (ethno/musicology, music theory, performance, and pedagogy) and sound studies, as well as topics on the transdisciplinary frontier between music and its conceivably numerous neighbors.