The Orpheus Doctoral Conference 2017, Traditions-Transitions, will explore how different modes of relationships between past and present affect musical performance practice and composition. Further, practitioners and researchers from the fields of music and social sciences will draw on Eric Hobsbawm’s notion of “invented traditions”, examining how traditions are forged, broken or interrupted and how they might be used as sources of renewal.
Credits photo: Karen Stuke
The spurs of Cavalry’s officers’ dress uniforms are more important for 'tradition' when there are no horses, the umbrellas of Guards officers in civilian dress lose their significance when not carried tightly furled (that is, useless), the wigs of lawyers could hardly acquire their modern significance until other people stopped wearing wigs.
The notion of tradition and that of transition go hand in hand. For the author of the quote above, historian Eric Hobsbawm, traditions are not only evidence of social and political transformations but also tools of social engineering. Created (“invented”) in times of turmoil to provide stable structures to a changing world, traditions as sets of repetitive practices of ritual or symbolic nature are powerful carriers of ideologies that connect us to certain ideas of past while concurrently projecting wishful visions of future. Transition, then, is the interruption of a tradition, either upon the detection of its uselessness or as ways of resisting to an existing social order.
In an array of lectures, performances and presentations, the Orpheus Doctoral Conference (ODC) 2017 explores how different relationships to tradition(s) affect(s) artistic practice, examining how traditions are forged, broken or interrupted, and how they might be used as sources of renewal. In his opening lecture, anthropologist Jackie Feldman takes a broad view on the conference topic, referring to the conflict around the Temple Mount/Noble Enclosure in Jerusalem to show how invented traditions can lead to factitious and ossified images of past. Violinist Sigiswald Kuijken, a pioneer within the Early Music Movement, demonstrates how the study of 17th- and 18th-century performance techniques and conventions of interpretation have led the reconstruction of a lost performance tradition. Moving to the realm of politics, music sociologist Esteban Buch uses the performance of a Mahler Symphony during the Argentinean dictature as a case study to discuss the interplay between hermeneutical traditions and the political context of a musical performance. Follows musicologist Richard Taruskin, reading Rousseau to solve a conumdrum: are there any traditions within musical performance practice, that are not invented?
Among the subjects treated in our musical gallery performances are those of appropriation and transcriptions as techniques to combine elements from different traditions to one’s personal artistic practice (Bárbara Varassi, Kunsanganisa), as a window to the past (Roxanne Dykstra, Nadia Koudasheva), or as a break with semantics traditions (Shaya Feldman’s use of Gibberish). In addition, a series of presentations by artist-researchers challenges established practices, such as the use of voice in the learning of music (Healy) or the agency of the performer in relation to a traditional understanding of the work-concept (Stefánsdóttir), while others deals with gender issues (as in Bell Jordan’s account of female violin playing before the late 19th century, or Thanh Thủy Nguyễn’s film documentary on the objectification of women in Vietnamese concert culture since the 1990s), as well as with themes such as the recovery of lost traditions (Johansen), the cultural traumatism of the Shoah (van Driel), and questions of authority and syncretism (Mareli Stolp on the development of South-African Opera). Finally, a number of social activities are planned in addition to the scientific program to give participants the chance to meet and get better acquainted.
We wish you all a wonderful time in Ghent!
You can download the schedule here.
Richard Taruskin is an American musicologist who has written and lectured on topics ranging across the whole of music – history and analysis as well as its cultural, social and political contexts. He has also been a performer and a choral conductor. Born in New York in 1945, He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University, where he was on the faculty until 1986. At the end of 2014, he retired from the University of California, Berkeley. His many books and articles include The Danger of Music, Other Anti-Utopian Essays and Text and Act. The latter is an important collections of essays that include a direct commentary on Eric Hobsbawm’s invented traditions. He is the author of the six-volume Oxford History of Western Music.
Argentinian musicologist Esteban Buch specialises in music sociology and in the relationship between music and politics and has written the libretto for Sebastian Rivas opera Aliados (2013). Currently, Buch is director of studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris,
Esteban Buch (Buenos Aires, 1963) is directeur d’études (full professor) at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, France. A specialist in music sociology and on the relationships between music and politics in the twentieth century, he is the author of several books including Le Cas Schönberg (Gallimard), Betthoven´s Ninth: A Political History (Chicago Univ. Press) and O juremos con gloria morir (Eterna Cadencia). He has co-edited Du politique en analyse musicale (Vrin, 2014), Tangos cultos (Gourmet Musical, Réévaluer l’art moderne et les avant-gardes (Editions de l’EHESS). Buch has also authored several opera librettos, namely Mario Lorenzo’s Richter Una ópera documental de cámara (2003) and Sebastian Rivas’s Aliados (2013).
Sigiswald Kuijken came into contact with early music at a very young age. Studying on his own, he gained a thorough knowledge of specific 17th- and 18th-century performance techniques and conventions of interpretation on violin and viola da gamba This led to the introduction of new playing techniques that were to have a crucial influence on the approach to the violin repertoire since the 1970s. Kuijken has performed with a number of Baroque music specialists, among which Wieland Kuijken, Gustav Leonhardt, Frans Bruggen Anner Bylsma and René Jacobs. In 1972, he founded the Baroque orchestra La Petite Bande, which since then has given innumerable concerts throughout Europe, Australia, South America, China and Japan, and has recorded for labels such as Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, Denon and Hyperion. Kuijken holds a honorary doctorate of the K.U. Leuven and has taught Baroque violin at the Koninklijk Conservatorium in The Hague and the Koninklijk Muziekconservatorium in Brussels as well as at the Royal College of Music in London, Salamanca University, Accademia Chigiana, the Conservatoire of Geneva and the Leipziger Musikhochschule. Occasionally, Kuijken conducts “modern” symphonic orchestras in romantic programs (Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, Mendelssohn). In 2009 he was granted the prestigious "Life Achievement Award of the Flemish Government".
With the friendly support of Academy of Creative and Performing Arts of the University of Leiden