Folk Music in Latvia

For the past few days I have been enjoying the Nordtrad Borderlands conference of folk music in Riga, Latvia. On Monday I gave a presentation with Keld Hosbond for this conference on the new Nordic international-collaborative Master of Global Music (GLOMAS) program. I have been quite impressed here by the work done by Anda Beitane and her colleagues at the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music to document and support the sustenance of Latvian traditional songs.

The following is an announcement of this conference from the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy website (http://www.jvlma.lv/english/news/19354.html):

NORDTRAD conference in Riga

Borderlands conference of teachers and students of the Nordtrad network of traditional music study programmes of Baltic and Nordic countries will take place from March 26 to 31 at Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music. The conference will feature three public performances, multitude of lectures, masterclasses and seminars for teachers, other musical performances as well as events for information and experience exchange.

Nordtrad network of traditional music study programmes unites 16 higher education institutions of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia and since 2008 also includes the Ethnomusicology Class of Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music. Traditional music teachers and students of these countries each spring meet at a conference that in a short period of time through masterclasses, lectures, concerts, teachers’ seminars, ensemble musicianship and other activities provides an excellent opportunity to analyze the profiles of all institutions, strengths, novelties and current issues of the field. This year the conference will take place in Riga - during the previous conferences Latvian traditional music has generated substantial interest within the networking institutions. For Latvia it is a unique opportunity to get acquainted with the music education system of the Nordic countries and to demonstrate its own music in all its diversity.

Listeners are welcome to the three concerts of the conference!

* March 27th, 7PM at JVLMA Great Hall - concert of cross-institutional master’s level study programme Nordic Master students and Nordtrad students.
* March 28th, 7PM at JVLMA Great Hall – continuation of Nordtrad students’ concert.
* March 29th, 7PM at Spīķeri Concert Hall - concert of Nordtrad teachers.

Entrance to these events is free, donations are accepted.

The conference will also feature lectures by ethnomusicologists Mārtiņš Boiko (Latvia), Daiva Vyčinienė (Lithuania) and Timo Leisiö (Finland), as well as masterclasses in Haiti music (Sten Källman, Sweden), Latvian, Lithuanian, Estonian and Finnish traditional singing (Zane Šmite, Daiva Vyčinienė, Janika Oras, Celia Roose, Sirkka Kosonen), kokle performance (Valdis Muktupāvels), Latvian and Lithuanian traditional instrumental music performance (Gunārs Igaunis, Evaldas Vyčinas) as well as Finnish diatonic accordion performance (Antti Paalanen). In frames of the conference students from the participating institutions will form ensembles and study the borderlands repertoire of all involved countries. Teachers will lead seminars, sharing their experiences on issues of traditional singing and ensemble tuition as well as ethnomusicology education of the participating countries. New master’s level study programmes Nordic Master and Gloma will be presented.

Borderlands conference is supported by the State Culture Capital Fund.

Relevant Links:






New Musical Knowledge

The coming month brings many interesting conferences and events that are likely to contribute substantial new knowledge to the field of music. It is exciting to have the opportunity to take part in such innovative projects, but it is going to be a very busy time.

First, it is great to see that my doctoral students continue to make great progress toward completion of their degrees:

  • On April 16, Deanna Frith Weber will defend her doctoral dissertation at Boston University, Albany’s Freedom Singers: Their History and Legacy for Music Education. This is a very interesting study of the history and continuing influence of the American Civil Rights movement’s “Freedom Singers”, who were recently invited to give a performance at the White House for President Obama. I am serving as the second reader for Deanna’s dissertation, with Richard Bunbury as the Supervisor.
  • Other students for whom I am serving as a dissertation reader are also making outstanding progress. On Friday, Albi Odendaal (Sibelius Academy) gave a fine presentation of some very early work on his dissertation, The Effect of Perceptual Learning Style Preference on Memorisation in Music, which has benefitted greatly from the guidance of Professor Harald Jorgensen (Norwegian Academy of Music).
  • Also, both Joseph M. Pignato and Michael Simmons (at Boston University) are nearing completion of their research writing, and appear to be headed toward a dissertation defense in late spring of this year.
  • Sami Alanne (Sibelius Academy), whose study is entitled Music Psychotherapy with Refugee Survivors of Torture: Interpretations of Three Clinical Case Studies, also looks likely to finish this year, and we are quite fortunate to have recently obtained some valuable insights from Professor Kai Karma regarding the methodology of Sami’s study.

Soon my course on Music and Social Theory will start at Sibelius Academy, and I have been preparing the lectures for that and anticipate some very interesting discussions with students.

We are also soon reviewing applications and scheduling auditions for the new Master of Global Music (GLOMAS) degree, which will be offered in partnership between higher education institutions in three European nations. I will be traveling briefly to Sweden and Denmark in April for the GLOMAS auditions.

There are also some upcoming research presentations:

  • I have been invited to participate as a Discussant (by videoconference) in the symposium Music as a Live Process: Mind, Culture and Esthetics Experience, at the Center for Social Science Research, State University of New York (SUNY), Oneonta [http://www.oneonta.edu/academics/ssr/] (March 16, 2010). Click HERE to download a poster for this event.
  • Also, I am excited to be chairing a session "Change and Stability, Music Culture in Southern Ostrobothnia" and presenting a paper entitled "Whither Hypermusicology?: Ethical and Epistemological Issues in Historical Ethnomusicology" for Musicology in the Third Millennium, an international symposium in Seinajoki, Finland (March 18, 2010).
  • Soon afterward, I will be giving a guest lecture on "Musical Embodiment and Gesture in Cross-Cultural Perspective" for the intensive Master course "Music, Meaning, and Gesture", offered to students from several different European institutions by the Nordic Network for the Integration of Music Informatics, Performance, and Aesthetics (NNIMIPA) at the University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark (March 22-25, 2010).
  • Also, it was a great pleasure to hear that my three group and individual proposals to the International Society for Music Education conference (in Beijing, China) were accepted. I very much look forward to meeting with Chinese colleagues there, as well as delegates from many other nations. Soon, I will be meeting with colleagues to plan our symposia for this event. Here is what I plan to be doing at that conference:

1) Chair, Symposium: International Perspectives on the Teaching of Keyboard Improvisation, 29th World Conference of the International Society for Music Education (ISME), Beijing, China (August 1-6, 2010) [with representatives from Finland, Germany, USA].

2) Chair and paper presentation, Symposium: Harmonizing Hemispheres – Positioning African Music in the Curriculum, 29th World Conference of the International Society for Music Education (ISME), Beijing, China (August 1-6, 2010) [with representatives from South Africa, Finland, USA].

3) Paper presentation, “On the Musical Instrument Industry and Music Education in Japan”, 29th World Conference of the International Society for Music Education (ISME), Beijing, China (August 1-6, 2010).

In April and May, I must once again focus on finishing my books, and it will be very interesting to see what life brings in the Autumn.