I enter the CMS presidency at a time of perhaps the greatest cliché in our history: "Into the Next Millennium." How many times have we heard that, or one of its derivatives? Time, of course, has no millennium markers—neither do the animals nor inanimate objects (except for our computers). The millennium cliché is a cultural and commercial marker; it helps us identify ourselves as progressive creatures, ever moving forward to greater heights (another cliché).
I also enter the CMS presidency as, I believe, the first degree-holding ethnomusicologist, although many of my predecessors are also renowned ethnomusicologists in their own right (especially former Presidents Fernández, Lundquist, McLucas, Seaton, Willoughby, and others). I think that probably all musicians are ethnomusicological to a certain degree, because all musicians are interested in the processes of making, listening to, reacting to, and thinking about music. Therefore, to replace the old familiar tune "Into the Next Millennium," I would like to suggest a new motto: "Into the World."
Into the World
The College Music Society has gone "Into the World" now for quite some time. I think it began in earnest when it emphasized the ethnic diversity of its national meeting sites. Another "world" interest has been to follow the routes (roots) of jazz in several of its national meetings. CMS has had the innovative perspective of realizing that the United States is a microcosm of the world and that probably most of the world's cultures are now a part of and contribute to American culture.
Very recently, "Into the World" has had a physical and geographic reality to it as well, as the CMS summer international conferences continue with great success. Thanks to Gerald Farmer, the 1995 Berlin Conference was very successful, as was the Vienna conference in 1997. Under the able guidance of Tod Trimble, and the leadership of Art Tollefson as chairman of the International Committee, we anticipate the 1999 Kyoto conference to be equally exciting and educational.
The 1998 Annual Meeting in Puerto Rico also revealed our great interest in going "Into the World." Again we applaud the CMS staff for handling with such great skill the difficult turn of events leading up to that meeting, and I am proud that so many CMS members expressed their concern for the well being of the Puerto Ricans who suffered because of Hurricane Georges. I do think our presence there helped boost the economy of the island in a small way.
Words of the Wise
As a way of paying tribute to the beautiful island of Puerto Rico, I would like to share this quote from Pablo Casals, a name many hold to be synonymous with the best in musical artistry. I think you will also agree that this quote is also synonymous with what is the best in being human.
- I am a person first, an artist second. As a person, my first obligation is to the welfare of my fellow people. I will endeavor to meet this obligation through music—the means which God has given me—since it transcends language, politics and national boundaries. My contribution to world peace may be small, but at least I will have given all I can to an ideal I hold sacred.
Like many narratives I will borrow from to inspire my presidential commentaries, this one has tremendous relevance for us as members of The College Music Society. It is perhaps one the most important goals of the College Music Society to be obligated to the welfare of our fellow humans through music.
Best wishes and Happy New Year! I wish you all a great 1999. May you and your computers be totally virus free as we approach the next millennium and move "Into the World."