Report: Eastman Symposium on Popular Music and the Canon

January 1, 1997

On 26-29 September The Eastman School of Music hosted a symposium on "Popular Music and the Canon: Old Boundaries Reconsidered." The event brought together current Eastman students and faculty, alumni, community members, and other interested musicians, in series of concerts, master classes, lectures, papers, and panel discussion. Symposium events were intended to provoke and inspire ideas and arguments, and to create an awareness of the realities in the polystylistic musical world confronted by today's musicians. Some of the questions considered were: What is the current extent of the crossover between the 'classical' and the 'popular' musical worlds in the university, college, And high school, and in the 'real' world of studio recording and concertizing?" "What role do Eastman graduates and graduates of comparable schools already play in the various spheres of popular music?" "How can world and popular musics best be incorporated into the curriculum?" "What do the interaction between popular and classical music tell us about the place of music in our current culture and society and even about the future of musical creation?"

The symposium included four main events. Alumni sessions were designed to highlight the role Eastman's alumni already play in the different realms of popular music. That event concluded with a panel discussion on "Popular Music and the Canon: Old Boundaries Reconsidered."

The three nights of concerts featured jazz and improvisation-based music, a classical-crossover conference, and a rock-with-orchestra combination. The event titled "Cross(over) Relations: Scholarship, Popular Music, and the Canon," organized by Robert Fink of Eastman and Daniel Harrison of the University of Rochester, included a number of interesting presentations. The keynote speaker was Susan McClary.

Also included in the symposium was a Record Company Session: Marketing Strategies in Classical Crossover Music in which several speakers gave wide-ranging views on the future of classical music and crossover recording.

Concurrent with the other events was a technology showcase of computer-based sound and multimedia. In addition to commercial CD-ROM applications and a demonstration by the Eastman Electronic Music Studio, a mini recording studio was set up, with students recording themselves in video and audio. The files were fed to a computer and combined, using Macromedia Director, for ultimate pressing on a CD.

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