Music will be the centerpiece of 2 conferences

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Pittsburghers know that 1992 was a significant year, the last time a seminal event happened here.

The wait is over.

The American Musicological Society will once again hold its annual meeting in Pittsburgh.

What, did you think I was talking about something else?

The AMS annual meeting goes from Thursday to Sunday at the Wyndham Grand, Downtown, with about 1,700 musicologists expected to attend 250 presentations. It will follow the New Beethoven Research Conference, a much smaller affair taking place today and Thursday, with roughly 40 to 50 scholars in attendance. That gathering, also at the Wyndham, focuses on the life and works of the famous German composer. Many events are free and open to the public.

American Musicological Society annual meeting
Where: Wyndham Grand Hotel, Downtown.

When: Thursday through Sunday.

Partial schedule:

• 5:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday, Wyndham — AMS President’s Endowed Plenary Lecture: “Mr. Gershwin’s Catfish Row Spirituals,” Richard Crawford, distinguished professor, University of Michigan.

• 8-9:30 p.m. Thursday, Commonwealth Room, Wyndham — “Mary Lou Williams: Selected Works for Big Band”: Indiana University of Pennsylvania Jazz Ensemble, Kevin Eisensmith (Indiana University of Pennsylvania), director; Ted Buehrer (Kenyon College), moderator.

• 2-3 p.m. Friday, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 328 Sixth Ave., Downtown — Baroque concert: Peter Sykes (Boston University), organo portativo; Victor Coelho (Boston University) and David Dolata (Florida International University), theorbo.

• 12:15 to 1:45 p.m. Saturday, Benedum Room, Wyndham — Lecture/recital: “Fortunate Love: Timbre, Texture and Tessitura in the Gallot/Weiss Renderings of ‘L’Amant Malheureux’: Christopher Wilke (Nazareth College), lute.

• 12:30 to 2 p.m. Saturday, Bellefield Hall, University of Pittsburgh, 315 S. Bellefield Ave., Oakland — An open reading session of large-scale “Number Pieces” of John Cage. Eclectic Laboratory Chamber Orchestra: David Gerard Matthews, artistic director; Alan Tormey, associate creative director. Attendees are invited to bring instruments and participate.

• 8 p.m. Saturday, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Downtown — Sequentia Ensemble: Frankish Phantoms, Benjamin Bagby, voice, harp; Wolodymyr Smishkewych, voice; Norbert Rodenkirchen, flutes, cithara, harp. $30 at the door.

The meetings offer a variety of events, from concerts to professional development activities, but with a major emphasis on scholarship. The Beethoven conference, now in its third annual iteration, has thus far piggybacked on the AMS meeting. Next year's solo conference will be in Beethoven's birthplace of Bonn, Germany, said conference organizer David Levy, professor of music at Wake Forest University.

It will feature presentations of papers on topics ranging from Beethoven's E minor mood to his daily life as discussed in his conversation books.

"That does tell us something about Beethoven's life and how his social interactions and business interactions come together," said Mr. Levy.

"I think the Pittsburgher who really loves Beethoven will be able to glean some stuff and see what Beethoven was all about," he said.

Registration and a schedule is available at http://college.wfu.edu/music/events/nbrconference, although as Mr. Levy put it, "nobody's going to be checking their IDs at the door."

Hundreds more will swoop in for the AMS meeting, an annual affair for the society, roughly 3,500 members strong.

Although conferences of this nature can reveal groundbreaking finds, there will be "no major big discoveries" this time around, said executive director Robert Judd. Still, the offerings demonstrate the breadth and depth of musicological research.

One study group will focus on ecocriticism, or the relationship between musicology and ecology -- "how music is situated in a specific locality," said Mr. Judd. For example, Robert Fallon of Carnegie Mellon University will discuss "The Sounds of Steel and Emeralds: Musical Representations of Pittsburgh's Industrial and Green Identities." Those scholars will have an outing to Phipps Conservatory Thursday morning.

Additionally, musicologists from Hungary and Russia will be in attendance, nodding to Pittsburgh's Eastern European connections, said Mr. Judd. At conferences in San Francisco and New Orleans, the AMS brought along scholars from China and Central and South America, respectively.

Some events are free and open to the public. A schedule of those activities -- a lecture and four recitals -- is in the box at right, and more information is available at www.ams-net.org/pittsburgh.

"We do encourage anyone of interest to come along," said Mr. Judd.

Elizabeth Bloom: ebloom@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1750. Twitter: @BloomPG.


First Published November 5, 2013 8:58 PM

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