Music Department to Host Annual Meeting of the Society for Ethnomusicology

Posted 02/27/08
Being home to one of the oldest ethnomusicology programs in the country, it was only fitting that Wesleyan host the 53rd annual meeting of the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM), Oct. 25-28.

All activities will take place on the Wesleyan campus, primarily in the Center for the Arts, Usdan University Center and Memorial Chapel. The meeting will take place during fall break to accommodate the more than 850 academics, students, professional musicians, and public sector administrators expected to attend.

Events during the three day meeting will include conference-style panels, performance workshops, and concerts. A one-day pre-conference on Oct. 24 titled “Toward a 21st Century Ethnomusicology,” will include visiting scholars from China, Indonesia and Africa. The meeting will also include webcasting and videoconferencing with students and colleagues in their home countries for a global discussion.

Known throughout its history for curricular innovation, Wesleyan boasts undergraduate and MA theses on South Indian, Native American, Irish, Jewish, Indonesian, Japanese, African, and experimental music, blues, and jazz written in the 1960s. The first Wesleyan ethnomusicology Ph.D was granted in 1971. The late Wesleyan Professor David McAllester was a co-founder of SEM in the 1950s, and in the 1960s he co-founded Wesleyan’s World Music Program, which has supplied two presidents to SEM, MacAllester and Mark Slobin, chair and professor of music.  Wesleyan University Press published the journal Ethnomusicology from its inception until 1971. SEM met at Wesleyan in 1975.
The current Music Department faculty, which has trained scores of ethnomusicologists, dates from the 1960s up to the present and includes Abraham Adzenyah, adjunct professor of music; Slobin; Sumarsam adjunct professor of music; I. Harjito, artist in residence, music; Su Zheng, associate professor of music, associate professor, East Asian Studies; Eric Charry, associate professor of music; David Nelson, artist in residence; B. Balasubrahmaniyan, adjunct instructor in music

Other longterm areas of specialization include experimental music, composition, creative music, and jazz and feature Alvin Lucier, John Spencer Camp Professor of Music; Anthony Braxton, professor of music; Neely Bruce, professor of music; Ron Kuivila, adjunct professor of music, director of the electronic music and recording studios; and Jay Hoggard, adjunct associate professor of music

The department’s 16-member fulltime faculty is rounded out by experts in conducting, Angel Gil-Ordóñez, associate professor of music; and musicology/theory Jane Alden, assistant professor of music, assistant professor of medieval studies; and Yonatan Malin, assistant professor of music.  Wesleyan has long stressed the integration of performance and scholarship and has an unusually large number of ensembles (called performance study groups) directed by full and part-time faculty, and occasionally by graduate students, that span the globe, including West Africa, South India, Indonesia, Eastern and Western Europe, China, Japan, Korea, the Caribbean, and North America.

Wesleyan alumni with Ph.Ds in ethnomusicology currently hold teaching positions at Yale, Brown, Duke, Tufts, Hampshire, Trinity, Wesleyan, New England Conservatory, Rensselaer Polytechnic, Kenyon, Lewis and Clark, Florida State, San Francisco State, and Central Conservatory (Beijing), among many others.

For further information, contact Music Department Associate Professor Eric Charry, who is chair of the SEM 2008 Local Arrangements Committee, at or 860-685-2579.