WHAT LIES BENEATH? EXPLORING THE HIDDEN CURRENTS OF THE CLASSICAL MUSIC WORLD – KING’S ARTS & HUMANITIES FESTIVAL, October 17th 2014
As part of the 2014 Arts & Humanities Festival, Anna Bull (Goldsmiths, University of London) and Christina Scharff organised a public event on inequalities in the classical music world. The event kicked off with an excellent and deeply touching performance of Sojourner Truth’s 1851 speech ‘Ain’t I a woman?’ by the vocalist, cellist, pianist, songwriter and composer Ayanna Witter-Johnson. For a video of the performance and the entire event, please see here.
Apart from several amazing performances by Ayanna Witter-Johnson, the event featured a panel discussion on gender, racial and class inequalities in classical music. Anna Bull discussed the classed and gendered nature of music education, whilst Beverley Mason (medar pysden international) presented her research into effective practices supporting musical progressions for ethnic minority young musicians. Christina Scharff presented the findings from ‘Young, Female and Entrepreneurial’, and the conductor Alice Farnham talked about Women Conductors at Morley, which is a programme she co-founded to encourage women into the profession. Last but not least, the classical music journalist, novelist and playwright Jessica Duchen discussed gender inequalities in the classical music world and concluded with a call to speak out against them. For more information, see here.
CLASSICAL MUSIC – CRITICAL CHALLENGES, KING’S COLLEGE LONDON, October 17th 2014
“Classical Music: Critical Challenges” was the second event in a series of critical debates on contemporary classical music practice. It featured speakers from Canada, the US and the United Kingdom, and represented the views of academics, but also cultural sector partners such as the Musicians’ Union. The event covered a wide and fascinating range of topics, including the colonial history of key classical music intuitions in the UK, such as the ABRSM (the exam board of the Royal Schools of Music), the ways in which western classical music travels to other part of the world, and what can be done to change classical music practice. All papers focused on the question of how classical music manages to maintain its status as a hegemonic and, above all, seemingly apolitical art form. By uncovering the politics in classical music practice, the event attempted to debunk this myth. Similar to the May conference, over 70 people registered for the event, demonstrating the great interest in the topic and timeliness of an informed debate. Please see here for the conference website, the programme and the abstracts.
CLASSICAL MUSIC AS CONTEMPORARY SOCIO-CULTURAL PRACTICE, KING’S COLLEGE LONDON, May 23rd 2014
This conference was also organised by Christina Scharff and Anna Bull from Goldsmiths College London. Looking at a range of contemporary issues in classical music practice, the conference attracted a large audience, including academics, musicians and various cultural sector partners. King’s Council Room was packed all day and the atmosphere was buzzing from early morning until evening. The icing on the cake was Professor Georgina Born’s keynote address, which made a wide range of contributions: theoretically, empirically and methodologically. If you’d like to find out more about the conference, please visit the webpage and look at the programme and abstracts.