AMSGNY Meetings

Winter Meeting--January 28, 2012

The Winter Meeting will take place on January 28th, 2012 at Columbia University, beginning at noon. It will be held in room 622 Dodge, which can be found by looking at this map:

You will need to enter from College Walk, up the steps, to the left, into the main door of Dodge, which is actually on the third floor above campus level.

These are the papers which will be presented:

Aya Esther Hayashi (CUNY Graduate Center)

In the words of New York Times critic Ben Brantley, “there has never been anyone on Broadway” quite like Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. Loud, quick-to-speak, and prone to fits of child-like temper, Broadway’s Fela led a revolution nightly while singing and dancing to his unique style of music at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre from November 2009 to January 2011.’s “Word of Mouth Review: FELA!” provided interesting insight as to how this musical was received on Broadway. Phyllis, one of the “Word of Mouth” panelists, called the show “authentic, indigenous, and natural;” Matt likened it to an “African history lesson.” Another New York Times theatre critic, Charles Isherwood, saw these impressions as cause for concern; he wrote, “The presentation of African culture as a feast of exotic pageantry has the potential, at least, to reinforce stereotypes of African people as primitive and unsophisticated, albeit endowed with astounding aptitudes for song and dance.” For many, the show will be the beginning and end of their exposure to African culture. As an audience member, I enjoyed the show immensely; but like Isherwood, I am concerned about the impressions left by FELA!. How does this musical present the life and legacy of Fela Kuti? Is there a dissonance between what FELA! presents on stage and what it says that it represents? Finally, what does this show say about Broadway as a cultural institution, particularly in regards to race and gender?

Stayin’ Alive: Senior Citizen Choirs Rocking Out in South Korea, China and the U.S.
Eric Hung (Rider University)

In recent decades, “senior citizen” choirs have been popping up in numerous cities in North America, Europe, Oceania, and East Asia.While many of these groups sing “traditional” choral literature, some are performing arrangements of recent pop songs—songs written after the choir members have reached at least middle age. This paper explores how performances by three of these choirs—from South Korea, China and the United States— dealt with predominant notions of the elderly in the countries where they are based, and negotiated the gaps between pop music and Western choral traditions.

Donizetti’s Daughter, Noah’s Flood, and a Line of Cows
Jeff S. Dailey (Five Towns College)

Although dismissed by Berlioz at the time of its premiere, the overture to Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment is revealed, under close observation, to be an intriguing mixture of scene painting and coming attractions. This paper will unravel the stories behind the overture’s sections and themes.

“This Is How They Do Not Like It”: The Politics of Queer ‘Unfindability’ in Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thomson’s Opera Four Saints in Three Acts
Brandon Peter Masterman (University of Pittsburgh)

The opera Four Saints in Three Acts, the 1927-8 collaboration between Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thomson, has long puzzled scholars. The incongruity between its avant-garde text and its unassuming music has elicited interpretations that range from seeing the opera as exemplary of modernist “semantic dissonance” to looking for the queer codes in the piece.
This paper aims to bridge structural and cultural approaches in unraveling the opera’s puzzle. Drawing on theories of abjection by Julia Kristeva and David Halperin, I argue that Four Saints projects a subjectivity of queer abjection: one relegated to the liminal spaces of society yet pressed to communicate within the limits of largely heteronormative social discourse. Zooming in on the opera’s Prologue, I demonstrate the ways in which its text and its music simultaneously engage with and depart from the mainstream operatic discourse of the time. These ways, I contend, exemplify what Halperin calls “unfindability,” a queer political maneuver that enacts the fears of being a queer American in the earlier twentieth century. Made unfindable, Stein and Thomson were able to compose their own queer identities into the opera itself.

The role of Harmoniemusik in Mozart’s Piano Concertos
James Massol (Savannah Philharmonic)

This paper addresses the role of Harmoniemusik in Mozart’s piano concertos, which comes from my dissertation, “Harmoniemusik as a Musical Topic in the Eighteenth-Century Orchestra.” Although various wind-music styles like fanfares and marches have figured into semiotic analyses, Harmoniemusik has thus far not been included in a systematic manner. It is clear, however, that Mozart, Haydn, and some of their contemporaries alluded to the genre in their operas, symphonies, and piano concertos—the Finale of Don Giovanni being only the most obvious. This presentation will begin with a brief introduction to wind topics and a methodology for identifying Harmoniemusik in both marked and unmarked contexts, followed by examples taken from Mozart’s piano concertos. I will conclude with some ideas about how the identification of Harmoniemusik can contribute to our understanding of wind-music styles in the aesthetics of eighteenth-century orchestral music.

Music for the Last Supper: The Dramatic Significance of Mozart’s Musical Quotations in the Tafelmusik of Don Giovanni
Nicholas Chong (Columbia University)

In Mozart’s Don Giovanni, the Tafelmusik accompanying the title character’s dinner comprises quotations from operas by Soler and Sarti, and from Le Nozze di Figaro. These quotations have often been dismissed as nothing more than comic relief for the audience and an opportunity for Mozart to play in-jokes on his colleagues. However, the care Mozart took to integrate the quotations into the opera’s larger structure encourages a search for deeper meanings. My paper counters the usual trivialization of the Tafelmusik by demonstrating how the quotation sources connect with Don Giovanni in both specific and general ways.

What yet-unseen musical presence is hidden in the finale of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony?
Randall Keith Horton (Queens College)

How is it possible that in the one hundred years since Bruno Walter conducted the world premiere of Gustav Mahler’s Ninth Symphony (1912, Vienna), no writing has shown the (arguably) most important musical element underlying the finale, Adagio, of that work?
I charge that it would have been nearly impossible to have heard the musical phenomenon to which I refer – undiscovered until now – unless one had enjoyed a professional background similar to mine: I am a retired career church musician. My discovery of this “hidden musical presence” in the Adagio movement has compelled me to present theoretical support for my argument. There is, in fact, an alarming absence of commentary and analysis demonstrating what I will show in my paper. In presenting digitally-recorded realizations of this “silent musical phenomenon” which is contained beneath the surface of this movement, I will argue that what, for one hundred years, has apparently not been seen or heard can no longer be denied as being present. Thus, a complete re-evaluation of the movement – indeed, of the entire symphony and of Mahler’s purpose – is necessitated.

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