Malta Meeting 2010

The 8th Meeting of the Study Group on the theme “Musical Translations Across the Mediterranean took place in Malta (July 1-4, 2010) hosted on its premises by the Mediterranean Institute of the University of Malta. The Program Committee was made up of Marcello Sorce Keller (Study Group Chair), Philip Ciantar (University of Malta), Ruth F. Davis (Cambridge University), Simon Mercieca (University of Malta), Martin Stokes (Oxford University). We are all very grateful to Dr. Simon Mercieca, Director of the Mediterranean Institute, for the hospitality he offered and for all the good advice and organizational input he provided.

 

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Cambridge Colloquium 2008

The eighteenth ICTM Colloquium took place at Corpus Christi College Cambridge, 20-23 July, doubling as an interim meeting of the Study Group on Anthropology of Music in Mediterranean Cultures. The Colloquium was sponsored by a UK-based charitable foundation (whose policy is to remain anonymous) with additional support provided by Cambridge University’s Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, the Faculty of Music and Corpus Christi College. The programme committee comprised Philip Bohlman, John O’Connell and Marcello Sorce Keller (Study Group Chair) with Salwa Castelo Branco and Ruth Davis as Programme Co-Chairs.

The theme was inspired by the concept of the Mediterranean as a site of intercultural encounters across time and space, and the pivotal role played by the three Abrahamic religions in the process. The focus on the Jewish diasporas of Al-Andalus was treated inclusively – an approach which proved exceptionally fertile as cutting-edge contributions by key players in the fields of Jewish music and Al-Andalus were juxtaposed, sometimes in startling ways, with perspectives from scholars representing the wider Mediterranean environment. The quality of presentations was superb, and the fact that draft papers were circulated in advance doubtless contributed to the high level of discussion throughout; this was particularly evident in the final discussion led by Stephen Blum, whose trenchant commentary subjected to critical scrutiny key processes, terms and concepts pertaining to the core theme of intercultural encounters, integrating observations drawn from the Colloquium with evidence from a wide range of musical and other sources.

The Colloquium began with welcoming speeches by Ruth Davis, Salwa Castelo Branco, Marcello Sorce Keller, and Svanibor Pettan (representing the ICTM Executive). The first session set the stage in medieval Iberia with presentations by Hilary Pomeroy on ‘The Light of the East’: Islamic Influence on Sephardi Culture’; Dwight Reynolds on ‘Contact, Influence, or Hybridization?: Jews, Muslims, and Christians and the Formation of medieval Andalusian Music’ and a recital paper by Judith Cohen ‘Remembering the graceful doe: Jewish, Christian and Muslim women and music in medieval Andalusia and beyond.’ Focusing on religious ritual, the second session began with Mark Kligman’s account of ‘Arab Music and Aesthetics in the Syrian Jewish Sabbath Liturgy’; Emmanuela Kavvadia presented the results of her joint research with John Plemmenos (prevented from joining us at the last moment by an accident) on ‘Synagogue Music of the Romaniote Jews: The Case of the Ioannina Community’; and Piergabriele Mancuso introduced us to the extraordinary ritual and musical world of the sabbatini of Sannicandro Garganico. Journeys in time and space across and beyond the Mediterranean linked presentations by Philip Bohlman on ‘Enlightenment Andalus - Herder’s Search for Mediterranean Modernity in the Jewish Past’ and Edwin Seroussi, whose paper ‘Musical Memory: The Journey of the Selihot according to Siftei renanot from Lucena (Al-Andalus, 11th century), to Djerba and Tripoli (16th century), and to Netivot and Tel Aviv (Israel, 21st century)’ was presented in his absence by Salwa Castelo-Branco.

Symbolic meanings attached to the Sephardic heritage came to the fore in presentations by Vanessa Paloma ‘Music and Gender in the liturgy of Northern Morocco:  the role of Andalusian and Judeo-Spanish melodies’; Jehoash Hirshberg‘The Sefardi as Source and as an Icon in Israeli Art Music’ and John Morgan O'Connell on ‘Continental Rift: Ashkenazi and Sephardic Musicians in Turkey (1923-38)’. Notions of a ‘golden age’, multiple diasporas, and issues of exclusion and distorted memory surfaced in presentations by Tony Langlois on ‘Jewish Musicians in the ‘Musique Orientale’ of Oran, Algeria’ and Goffredo Plastino on ‘The lacerating expulsion: Al-Andalus, Mediterranean jazz and world music strategies in contemporary Italy’.

The Colloquium relaxed into more informal formats on the second afternoon, beginning with Judith Cohen’s report on contemporary representations of medieval Sephardic music in ‘Three Cultures’ festivals in Spain, with Dwight Reynolds responding. Marcello Sorce Keller reported and led a discussion on developments and future plans for the Study Group, including ideas for future venues. There followed a visit to the University Library to view selected items from the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Collection (manuscripts retrieved from the Ben Ezra Synagoue in Cairo) introduced by the Collection’s Director Ben Outhwaite. A public concert of Sephardic song by the ensemble Joglaresa in the Chapel of Corpus Christi College rounded off the second day. On the final morning Philip Bohlman convened and introduced the panel ‘Mediterranean City Profiles’, with Salwa Castelo-Branco (Cairo), Ruth Davis (Tunis), Iain Fenlon (Venice), John Morgan O’Connell (Istanbul), and  Merav Rosenfeld (Tel Aviv). The Colloquium culminated in Stephen Blum’s discussion session, referred to above. Throughout the two-and-a-half days, the presentations and discussions were punctuated by references to the late founder and guiding spirit of the Study Group, Tullia Magrini, whose untimely passing in the summer of 2005 continues to be felt as resounding loss, and whose pioneering vision of the Mediterranean as ‘a setting for musical syncretisms that result from unique historical vicissitudes and from the ability of certain social groups to elaborate cultural encounters in original ways’ penetrates to the heart of the Colloquium’s debates.

A proposal to publish the conference papers as an edited volume in the Europea Series of the Scarecrow Press (series editors Philip Bohlman and Martin Stokes) is currently under discussion.

Ruth F. Davis, Vice-Chair and Convener
Cambridge, 29 August 2008

 

 

Venice Meeting 2007



 

The Study Group held its 7th Meeting in Venice, hosted by the “Fondazione Ugo e Olga Levi”, in June 28-30, 2007. This was its first reconvening after Tullia Magrini, founder and soul of it, so prematurely passed away in Summer 2005. The Meeting was, therefore, first of all a commemoration of the person who had put so much energy and creativity into the activities of the Study Group, then an occasion to present papers on a Mediterranean theme “Cosmopolitan Cities and Migrant Musics” (thought up by Tullia herself, shortly before she passed away), and also an opportunity for many friends and collegues who closely shared Tullia’s interests to meet again, discuss the future of the Study Group itself, and its web-journal “Music & Anthropology”.

Loris Azzaroni, distinguished music theorist, and Tullia Magrini’s husband, was an essential link in securing the same support and sponsorship which the Fondazione Levi had so far given to by Tullia Magrini, in reason of her collaboration with the Fondazione on a number of other activities. Giulio Cattin, President Emeritus of the Scientific Committee of the Fondazione commemorated Tullia, speaking about her relationship to the Fondazione itself, while Marcello Sorce Keller, remembered her scholarly profile and position within the context of Italian ethnomusicology.

A Keynote address was delivered by Bruno Nettl, “Minorities and Migration in the History of Musical Scholarship”, and the first session was opened by Philip Bohlman with his challenging “Utopia/Heteropia – Music, Migration, and the Metropolitan Imaginary. Other papers followed, by Goffredo Plastino, “Cosmopolitanism and Localization in Contemporary Neapolitan Jazz”, Paola Barzan “Towards and Across the Mediterranean Sea: Migrant Musics in Padua”, Giuliana Fugazzotto, “Musical Tradition and Blending among the Italian Communities in Early Twentieth Century America, Martin Stokes, “Melancholic Cosmopolitanism and Arabesk Crossover in Contemporary Turkey, MArgaret Kartomi, “By the Rivers of Babylon: the Liturgical Music of Babylonian Jews in their Colonial and Post-colonial Diasporas”, Josko Caleta, “From Local and Traditional to Global and Popular: Klapa Singing in Zagreb”, Iain Fenlon “Recuperatine the Soundscape: Other Musics in the Renaissance Venice, Ruth Davis, “From Diaspora to Jerusalem: Broadcasting ‘Oriental’ Music in Mandatory Palestine”. The Chemistry among participants turned out to be excellent, and discussions were just as interesting and provocative as the papers themselves.

On the practical side a few decisions were taken by those who had been with the Study Group since its beginnings, the “founding fathers”, so to say: Marcello Sorce Keller will chair the Study Group and be responsible for the preparation of its next Venetian Meeting, while Ruth Davis kindly accepted to help him and be vice-chair. Before reconvening in Venice, presumably in 2010, however, it is felt the need for intermediate opportunities to meet. That is why a Colloquium of the Study Group will take place in Cambridge, in July 2008, and Ruth Davis will be the organizer and the host of it. It was also decided that Martin Stokes will be the editor of the web-journal “Music and Anthropology”, and has a mandate to reconfigure it, and give it new energy and bite.

During the last World Conference held in Vienna, on July 6, the Study Group also had its business meeting. It was a very informal one at that, in which Marcello Sorce Keller gave information about the recent developments that took place in Venice, then a mailing list of ICTM members interested in the Study Group was made, and the people who were present and had been active in it in the past, also gave further feedback on what directions they thought the Group should follow for the future. In the wake of such inputs, the future looks promising and very busy.

Marcello Sorce Keller, Convener

 

 

 
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