Tuesday, September 17, 2013

AMS Plenary Lecture:
Richard Crawford on Gershwin

by Christopher Reynolds

The American Musicological Society is pleased to announce an endowed plenary lecture to take place at its annual national meetings in November. The President's Endowed Plenary Lecture will be given each year by a music scholar of particular distinction. First recipient of this honor is Richard Crawford, the Hans T. David Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Musicology at the University of Michigan, who will speak on “Mr. Gershwin's Catfish Row Spirituals.” The lecture takes place Thursday, November 7, 2013, from 5:30 to 6:30 pm at the Wyndham Grand Hotel Pittsburgh Downtown, 600 Commonwealth Place, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The public is invited.

Many scholarly societies have such events, either as lectures or as sessions that bring together two or more distinguished speakers. To name just two, the American Council of Learned Societies has a long tradition of Charles Homer Haskins Prize Lectures, a series named after the first chairman of ACLS. The chosen speakers—among them the composer Milton Babbitt (1991) and, soon, the ethnomusicologist Bruno Nettl (2014)—are asked “to reflect on a lifetime of work as a scholar and an institution builder, on the motives, the chance determinations, the satisfactions (and dissatisfactions) of the life of learning, to explore through one’s own life the larger, institutional life of scholarship.”

And the American Association for the Advancement of Science proclaims that their AAAS Plenary Lectures “provide an opportunity for meeting attendees to hear from world renowned speakers who have a passion for science and technology.”

Although the American Musicological Society co-sponsors lectures at the Library of Congress and at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, it had done nothing of this sort since the early 1990s, when there was a tradition of an annual presidential address that took place at the society's business meeting. The Board of Directors, as part of an enhanced mission of "public musicology," welcomed the idea of a new plenary session—that is, one addressed to the membership at large. It was made possible by the philanthropic altruism of former AMS president Elaine Sisman (Columbia University) and her husband Martin Fridson.

Plenary lecturer Richard Crawford is not only a scholar whose books and articles have shaped our view of American musical history, but his decades long stewardship of the MUSA series of editions (Music of the United States of America)—remarkably now in its 25th year—is helping to establish a diverse canon of American music made available in scholarly editions. An article on Crawford and the lecture appears in the August issue of the AMS Newsletter, page 8.

The intent of our new plenary lecture is to provide an occasion that brings together as many members of the Society as possible for a moment that is at once intellectually stimulating and socially festive. For those who are unable to be there in person, we intend to film the lecture and make it available on our web site.

Come one, come all … but come early, because this will take place in a room that only seats 750 or so.

Editor's Note: our own recap of the lecture is available here

Christopher Reynolds is President of the American Musicological Society.  He is Professor of Music at the University of California, Davis.

No comments:

Post a Comment