Matthew Arndt presents on The Dark Side of Oz in New Zealand, Canada

With assistance from the University of Iowa School of Music and International Programs, Matthew Arndt presented a paper entitled “The Dark Side of Oz as Allegory of Spiritual Transformation” at the annual meetings of the New Zealand Musicological Society at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch and the Society for Christian Scholarship in Music at St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto. According to Arndt, “The Dark Side of Oz, the mashup of Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz, has established itself as an inspiring work of art, giving rise to live shows as well as new music and art. It is also a decidedly open work, having no identifiable author and no generic conventions. Faced with these interpretive challenges, scholars have hardly examined the phenomenon in artistic terms at all, with the exception of John Richardson. […] This study adopts the premise that the meaningfulness of the mashup is grounded […] in its affordance of a conceptual blending of the album’s musical-lyrical content with the film’s narrative. […] As a prism selectively activates color, so the album serendipitously activates elements in the film to present an allegory of spiritual transformation that closely matches the analysis of this process in St. Theophan the Recluse’s magisterial The Path to Salvation.”


Iverson is Stanford External Faculty Fellow

Hoover Tower at Stanford University

Hoover Tower at Stanford University

Jennifer Iverson, assistant professor of music theory, has won an External Faculty Fellowship from the Stanford Humanities Center. Iverson is one of ten external fellows selected from a pool of over four hundred applicants, making this one of the most competitive and prestigious residential fellowships in the nation. In a happy coincidence, a second University of Iowa professor, Blaine Greteman, is also in the 2015-16 Stanford cohort. A College of Liberal Arts and Sciences article about that is here.

Iverson will spend the year in Palo Alto working on her book project, Electronic Inspirations: The WDR Studio and Musical Thought at Mid-Century. Her research elucidates the impact of the WDR (West German Radio) studio and its music on the post-war European musical avant-garde in the critical decades of the 1950s and 1960s. The WDR in Cologne quickly became a new music mecca due to robust government funding for its electronic studio and related concert series and broadcasts. It is a crucial but so far overlooked institution for the pan-European post-war musical avant-garde. The rise of electronic music at mid-century is deeply engaged with broader cultural questions about the role of technology in institutions, art, and life. Electronic Inspirations shows how the electronic music made at the WDR drove the development of mid-century classical music, and shaped the proliferation of technology in post-war culture more broadly.

Stanford Humanities Center

Stanford Humanities Center

The fellowship represents an incredible and rare opportunity for focused research and writing within a community of top-notch humanities scholars. This broader humanities context is quite desirable, as Iverson and Matthew Arndt found during their tenure as fellows-in-residence at the Obermann Center at the University of Iowa. As Iverson explains, “More and more, I find that feedback on my writing and my ideas from those trained in the humanities, but not necessarily in music theory or musicology, is extremely insightful and valuable.” Iverson will return to teaching at the University of Iowa in Fall 2016.

Wilson Kimber, Cook, and Others Honored by Society for American Music

elocution and the 19th century American woman

elocution and the 19th century American woman

The Society for American Music has recently chosen musicologist Marian Wilson Kimber as the recipient of a publication subvention–an award that will defray the costs of publishing a book–for her monograph Feminine Entertainments: Women, Music and the Spoken Word (forthcoming from University of Illinois Press). The H. Earle Johnson Publication Subvention is “intended to support the costs of the publication of a significant monograph on an important topic in American Music.”  This is quite a significant award, as SAM awards only two subventions per year of $2500 each. Wilson Kimber’s book offers a detailed look at the under examined, gendered practice of elocution in the 19th century. She shows that elocution was a touchstone for women’s participation in a host of creative literary, dramatic, musical and dance activities. Wilson Kimber uniquely reveals the 19th-century American woman to have used the art of the spoken word not just for artistic and musical expression but also as a space to exert moral and cultural authority. At the same meeting, music theorist Robert Cook received an honorable mention for the Irving Lowens Memorial Article Award for his article “The Vocal Ecology of Crumb’s Crickets” in JSAM volume 7. An earlier post about that article is here.

Current and former University of Iowa faculty and students also made strong research presentations. At the conference’s opening session, School of Music Assistant Professor Nathan Platte presented new historical findings on the “Tara” theme from Gone With the Wind. Alumna Katheryn Lawson (MA, Musicology, 2013) hosted a discussion panel titled “Childhood and American Music.” Alumnus Michael Accinno (MA, Musicology, 2010) presented a paper on musical activity at the Perkins School for the Blind in the nineteenth century. At a special ceremony that featured a performance of his Piano Trio, UI alumnus Olly Wilson (Ph.D., Composition, 1964) received an Honorary Membership Award from the Society for his “inestimable contributions to American musical culture through his compositions, his teaching, and his championing of African-American music.” Further news about Iowa contributions at the 2015 SAM meeting are here.

Hearty congratulations to Professors Wilson Kimber, Cook, Platte, and other University of Iowa affiliates for such strong work in American music!

Mojo Risin’ at Iowa’s Obermann Center

Two members of the music theory faculty, Matthew Arndt and Jennifer Iverson have recently been honored as Fellow-in-Residence at the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies. This award gives them a space to work on their research and writing at the Obermann Center, the chance to share and discuss work with other Fellows, $1000 for research, and the opportunity to apply for funding for interdisciplinary projects. Dr. Iverson is working in the same space that Dr. Arndt worked in in the fall (see photo), because it has the best mojo. During his Fellowship, Dr. Arndt completed the manuscript for his book project, “With God!”: The Musical Thought of Heinrich Schenker and Arnold Schoenberg. Dr. Iverson is working on three article projects, discussing the dawn of electronic music at the WDR studio in Cologne, John Cage‘s 1954 visit to West Germany, and the disabled body in electronic music.

mojo risin

Iowans at Society for American Music

The University of Iowa was well represented at the annual conference of the Society for American Music, held in Charlotte, North Carolina, March 14-18, 2012.  Two faculty, one current student, and one former student presented papers.  At the business meeting, Professor Nathan Platte was awarded the Wiley Housewright Dissertation award for his work, “Musical Collaboration in the Films of David O. Selznick, 1932-1957.”

Kery Lawson (master’s student), “’I’m Going to Raise My Boy to be a Soldier:’ The Strong Mother in WWI Popular Song”

Prof. Nathan Platte, “Before King Kong was King: Competing Strategies in Hollywood Symphonic Scores, 1931–33”

Prof. Marian Wilson Kimber, “Jane Manner’s “Readings with Music” and the Creation of Melodramatic Performance, ca. 1890–1935”

Michael Accinno (Iowa alum, doctoral student, University of California, Davis), “Disabled Bodies, Disabled Instruments: Civil War Veterans as Organ Grinders”

(Photo: Michael Accinno and Kery Lawson at SAM, after the bus to Davidson College had broken down.)