Royal Society for Music History of The Netherlands

Conference: Early Music in the 21st Century - 15-17 October 2021 at the Amsterdam Conservatory

It is time to rethink, reevaluate and reboot the early music movement, and this conference will bring together some of the most important academicians, practitioners and pedagogues to do so. This (hopefully) live and simultaneously online conference will provide an opportunity to discuss ideas for the future of our field. A selection of papers will be published to present Early Music in the 21st Century to an even wider audience.

Ever since its inception, the early music movement has been chronicled, analysed, supported and criticised by an array of journalists, philosophers, musicologists and performers. Now that historically-informed performance is firmly established in the western classical music landscape, it is imperative to reappraise its historiography, offer reflections for its future and provide a platform for new topics and voices that have yet to be heard. It is the hope that experienced and young academics, practitioners and pedagogues will contribute their thoughts on a wide range of musicologies, approaches and perspectives.

The topics will be grouped under four main headings: Methodologies and Techniques, Pedagogy, Different Perspectives, and A New Historiography. Methodologies from ethnomusicology and embodied research, for example, as well as new technologies such as virtual acoustics will be presented. The challenges of teaching historically-informed music, dance and theater will be explored through various pedagogical approaches. New perspectives and voices will be given a platform for topics that could include gender, post-colonial theory, class and religion. In conclusion, the accepted historiography of the movement will be challenged, for only an honest appraisal of our past can produce a more conscientious future.

Prospective authors have been enthusiastic about publishing their work in Early Music in the 21st Century. Complimentary essays, such as a theoretical discussion of embodied research reflected in an essay from a pedagogical perspective, hope to bring together the very best of theory and practice. Jeremy Montagu (1927-2020), the “world famous authority on musical instruments,” supported the volume’s concept and submitted a provocative essay entitled “Making (Faking?) Early Music” just months before his death.

This project is inspired by editor Nicolas Kenyon’s Authenticity and Early Music (1988), a collection of essays which addressed one of the most pressing issues of the movement in the 1980s. Kenyon was invited to help put together a conference at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music (USA), and his book is the result of this fruitful international encounter. The Conservatory of Amsterdam (The Netherlands), with support from the University of Amsterdam, has generously offered to host a similar event for Early Music in the 21st Century 15-17 October 2021. It is the hope that this event will provoke an equally confrontational and even more revolutionary result.

Keynote Speaker: Professor Caroline Bithell

Professor Caroline Bithell (University of Manchester, U.K.) is best known in the ethnomusicology world and beyond for her work on music revivals, publications on Corsican music, and her research into the natural voice and community choirs. Her book Transported by Song: Corsican Voices from Oral Tradition to World Stage (Scarecrow Press, 2007) was awarded 5 stars by Songlines magazine, as well as being positively reviewed in the academic press. Her latest books, both published by Oxford University Press in 2014, are A Different Voice, A Different Song: Reclaiming Community through the Natural Voice and World Song and The Oxford Handbook of Music Revival. The latter is a collection of 30 essays co-edited with Juniper Hill. Her current research focuses on the renaissance of vocal polyphony in post-Soviet Georgia (Caucasus). Caroline has served terms as Chair of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology and editor of the journal Ethnomusicology Forum. She is also active in the community music world as a voice practitioner and workshop leader.

Speakers and Contributors

Other speakers include Jonathan Abel (Stanford University, USA), Eoin Callery (University of Limerick, Ireland), Robert Ehrlich (Hochschule für Musik und Theater /University of Music and Theatre, Leipzig), Kai Köpp (University of Art, Bern, Switzerland), Kailan Rubinoff (University of North Carolina, USA) and Jed Wentz (University of Leiden and Conservatory of Amsterdam, The Netherlands). Jeremy Montagu (1927-2020) contributed an essay entitled “Making (Faking?) Early Music” to Early Music in the 21st Century.