AMSGNY Meetings

Spring Meeting--April 28th at Hunter College

Our spring gathering is a joint meeting with the North American British Music Study Association. It will be held at Hunter College on Saturday, April 28th. The presentations will begin at noon, but AMSGNY members are encouraged to arrive by 11 for our annual business meeting and for refreshments. The meeting will take place in room 404 in the North Building.

Hunter College is located at 68th Street and Lexington Avenue. Here is a link to directions:

Because of Hunter's new security system, guests are required to enter through the West Building, on the southwest corner of 68th and Lexington. From there, you should take the escalator to the third floor, walk across 68th Street on the enclosed bridge, and turn left into the North Building. You can reach the fourth floor by stairs or elevator. Room 404 is on the west side of the building.


12 to 1:30
In Britten’s Shadow: Arthur Bliss and the 1962 Coventry Cathedral
Festival Fifty Years On
Justin Vickers

The 1962 Coventry Cathedral Festival spanned twenty-four days and
included more than 125 events, presented by some 200 musicians,
artists, ensembles, troupes, and clergy. The Festival’s inaugural
performance was bestowed upon Arthur Bliss’s cantata The Beatitudes, a
work that esteems atonement and redemption, a forgotten paean of hope
by the Master of the Queen’s Music. It received its première in the
Coventry Theatre and not, much to Bliss’s chagrin, in the Cathedral as
he had been led to believe. Notwithstanding such an honor, history
accords to the consecration of the newly rebuilt Coventry Cathedral
the première of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, as if they were
synonymous events. This paper explores the disparity in pre-Festival
publicity surrounding both works, compares these commissions with
additional Festival commissions, and considers why the majority of
Festival entrees have fallen into relative obscurity while Britten’s
War Requiem maintains its ascent into the canon of memorial works.

Dramatic Vocalization in the Works of Ralph Vaughan Williams
Philip D. Nauman

No other English composer used dramatic vocalization—wordless singing to express extra-musical elements and signify emotive sentiments within dramatic situations--as much, and in as many varied genres, as Vaughan Williams. Beginning with the early Five Mystical Songs for solo baritone, chorus, and orchestra (1911), he continued to turn to dramatic vocalization throughout the rest of his career. Two of his nine symphonies—the Pastoral Symphony (1921) and Sinfonia Antartica (1952)—include the technique in both their first and last movements, and the suite for solo viola, chorus, and orchestra, Flos Campi (1926), includes dramatic vocalization throughout. In addition, the influence of Irish keening—wordless lamentation sung by women—is audible in several works of Vaughan Williams, most notably the opera Riders to the Sea (1936).

An Island Full of Noises: the Theater of Thomas Adès and William Shakespeare.
Robert McClung

In this essay we imagine the sounds that Caliban hears, awake or in dreams, on the island in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Renaissance conceptions of magic, the nature of sound and the feminine voice inform a new way of understanding Shakespeare’s play, particularly the character of Ariel. Linking these ideas to moments in Thomas Adès’ 2004 operatic adaptation of the play, as well as various relevant twentieth-century texts by writers including W.H. Auden and Italo Calvino, reveal what both of these works take as their primary concern: the nature of sound—spoken and sung—and its effect on the listener in the world of the theater.

1:45 to 2:45 Lecture-Recital
Cosmopolitan Songs by a Scottish Composer: Hamish MacCunn (1868-1916) and his Caledonian Cloak
Jennifer Oates
Justin Vickers, tenor
Sylvia Kahan, piano
The Scottish composer Hamish MacCunn rose to fame with seven Caledonian-influenced compositions first heard in London between 1887 and 1889, which featured contrasts of texture and abrupt harmonic changes to depict the landscape of his place of birth and drew upon the Scottish musical tropes established by Mendelssohn, the national musics of Dvořák and Grieg, and the literary and musical traditions of Scotland. In his songs, the dramatic contrasts of his Scottish compositions have been refined to express the rapidly changing emotions of the poem. The lack of Scottishness in MacCunn’s songs implies that these works are a better representation of his musical voice than his more popular Scottish works, and suggests that his Scottish musical style was little more than a façade

3 to 5
'It's Not Necessary!' Johann Schnetzler and Changing Attitudes toward the Organ in Reformed and Anglican Worship
Sarah Davies

The celebrated English organ builder John Snetzler, born Johann Schnetzler in Schaffhausen in 1710 (d. 1785) brought his talents to London in the 1730s where a thriving Swiss and German community of artists and artisans served the Hanoverian court. With a commission from Charles Burney in 1754, the Anglicized "Snetzler" went on to build large instruments for an impressive number of sacred institutions. This paper will look at the British organ's continuing "comeback" through the agency of a Swiss builder, after the Puritan devastation of a century earlier, within the context of a German Royal Chapel, and will document attitudes in English and German "organ sermons" published between 1599 and 1798 on the "necessity" of the organ in worship.

Elements in Opposition: The Juxtaposition of Dualist Concepts in Michael Tippett’s The Vision of Saint Augustine
Kate Sekula

Michael Tippett’s The Vision of Saint Augustine is filled with dualist elements which are in direct opposition to one another. For example, Tippett was an atheist setting religious texts; he endeavored to create timelessness in a medium intrinsically wedded to the concept of time; and his sound-world is avante-garde, although his harmonic language is largely based on the diatonic collection. In this presentation I will discuss how this cantata, which sounds non-traditional, highly chromatic and indeterminate, is composed using diatonic, historically grounded compositional techniques.

Antiquarianism, 'Ancient' Music and the Manuscript Copies in the London Madrigal Society Collection (British Library Mad.Soc. MSS)
Samantha Bassler

It has been argued that there was a dearth of interest in Byrd's music between 1623 and the English Musical Renaissance of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. However, as I have provisionally argued in my doctoral dissertation, the activities of the eighteenth-century London Madrigal Society reveal an important and intriguing instance of much earlier renewed interest in Byrd's and other early music. This paper will build on my earlier presentation by giving a detailed account of the nineteenth-century sources, providing examples of the Madrigal Society manuscript copies of Byrd’s 1589 Cantiones sacrae and of his 1605 and 1607 Gradualia, and explaining how the nineteenth-century editions of these works were constructed and compare these copies to the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century originals. The presentation will also include examples of various manuscript copies of music by Byrd and his contemporaries, attendance records, and other historical data from the antiquarians of the Madrigal Society.

Joseph Haydn and Brigida Banti in London: The 1795 Premiere of Scena di Berenice
Sarah Hoover

At the end of the eighteenth century two celebrated foreign musicians arrived in London – an Austrian composer, Joseph Haydn, and an Italian prima donna, Brigida Giorgi Banti. Their two careers intersected on the evening of Monday, May 4, 1795 when at Haydn’s final benefit concert they presented a new piece of music to the English public, a cantata for soprano and orchestra entitled Scena di Berenice. It appeared to have been an all-star line-up, but extant documents suggest that, although “Mr. Haydn’s night” was a financial, personal, and critical success, the new Scena was not. This paper will examine the musical material of Haydn’s cantata in light of what we know about Banti’s voice and artistry to consider the obstacles which may have been in the way of a successful performance and reception of Haydn’s “aria per la Banti.”

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