Welcome to our Music, Festivals, Heritage conference, Siena

This week the major international gathering of the CHIME project takes place, in Siena, Italy. We welcome everyone attending and contributing. Our conference, titled Music, Festivals, Heritage, seeks to explore a number of key themes, questions or problems for the field, including:

  • Established and innovative uses of heritage sites and public spaces
  • Festival sites and cultural memory
  • Transformations of place: music festivals as utopian sites
  • Questions of music genre (e.g. jazz, opera, folk, rock, classical) and the construction of heritage at festival
  • Festival as dull culture: repetition, predictability, boredom
  • The tension between the conservation and the use of heritage sites
  • Festivals and cultural tourism
  • New models of engagement between festivals and cultural heritage
  • Festivals as sites that explore the relationship between tangible, intangible and digital heritage
  • Critical perspectives from festival programmers, producers, organisers
  • The mediation and representation of (heritage and) festival
  • Festival as exclusive community; festival as marginal space
  • From carnivalesque to festivalisation: theoretical approaches and questions of festival
  • The cultural politics of festival sites.

Our location is the Siena Jazz Archive, which holds the most important specialised collection in Italy; it includes more than 25,000 sound and video items, over 2,000 books, and thousands of magazine issues including the only complete collection of the Musica Jazz magazine. Here is a feature in the Italian press about the conference.

On behalf of the CHIME project and the organising commitee, conference convenor Prof Walter van de Leur says:
We are hugely excited about the international conference here in historic and beautiful Siena this week, in collaboration with the Siena Jazz Archive. The conference is a major part of our EU Heritage Plus programme CHIME project. We are delighted to be hosting around 70 speakers coming from 23 countries across Europe, Canada and the US,  South Africa, Colombia, and Australia. We look forward to stimulating, enjoyable and productive discussions around music, festival and heritage from the perspectives of academic research, the festival and music industries, and cultural policy.
Further information, including the daily schedule of papers and presentations, exhibition, lectures, plenary, reception, and screenings is available here, where you can also find travel information for international delegates coming via Florence and Pisa airports, for instance.

CHIME CONFERENCE 25-28 May 2017 – Music, Festivals, Heritage

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CALL FOR PAPERS – CHIME Conference, Music, Festivals, Heritage

Siena Jazz Archive, Italy. 25-28 May 2017

Keynote Speaker:  Professor Andy Bennett, Griffith University, Queensland, Australia

In a world where notions of culture are becoming increasingly fragmented, the contemporary festival has developed in response to processes of cultural pluralization, mobility and globalization, while also communicating something meaningful about identity, community, locality and belonging.—Andy Bennett et al, The Festivalization of Culture

From Woodstock to The Proms, from Burning Man to Montreux, music festivals have a transformative potential; they can help people connect with places and spaces in new ways and play a key role in identity formation. Festivals at their most utopian offer a fantastic space in which to dream and try another world into being. Equally, they offer opportunities for people to celebrate and engage with their cultural heritage and to re-connect with the past.

We invite submissions for Music, Festivals, Heritage, a four-day multi-disciplinary conference that brings together leading researchers across the arts, humanities and social sciences, as well as festival directors, producers and programmers, to explore the relationship between music festivals and cultural heritage.

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We welcome contributions that address the conference title from multiple perspectives, including heritage studies, festivals and event research, media and cultural studies, musicology, sociology, cultural theory, music analysis, history, and practice-based research. Music, Festivals, Heritage also aims to feature presentations from both researchers and industry professionals.

Conference topics include but are not restricted to:

  • Established and innovative uses of heritage sites and public spaces
  • Festival sites and cultural memory
  • Transformations of place: music festivals as utopian sites
  • Questions of music genre (e.g. jazz, opera, folk, rock, classical) and the construction of heritage at festival
  • Festival as dull culture: repetition, predictability, boredom
  • The tension between the conservation and the use of heritage sites
  • Festivals and cultural tourism
  • New models of engagement between festivals and cultural heritage
  • Festivals as sites that explore the relationship between tangible, intangible and digital heritage
  • Critical perspectives from festival programmers, producers, organisers
  • The mediation and representation of (heritage and) festival
  • Festival as exclusive community; festival as marginal space
  • From carnivalesque to festivalisation: theoretical approaches and questions of festival
  • The cultural politics of festival sites

Proposals are invited for:
• Individual contributions (20 minutes) – up to 250 words.
• Themed sessions or panel discussions – 250 words per contribution plus 250 words outlining the rationale for the session.
• 75 minute sessions in innovative formats – up to 750 words outlining the form and content of the session.

Please submit proposals (including a short biography and institutional or organisational affiliation) by email in a word document attachment to: w.vandeleur@uva.nl

The deadline for proposals is 1st December 2016; outcomes will be communicated to authors by 10 January 2017. All submissions will be considered by the conference committee:

  • Prof Walter van de Leur, Chair (University of Amsterdam/Conservatory of Amsterdam)
  • Prof Helene Brembeck (University of Gothenburg)
  • Prof Nicholas Gebhardt (Birmingham City University)
  • Dr Francesco Martinelli (Siena Jazz Archive)
  • Prof George McKay (University of East Anglia)
  • Professor Beth Perry (University of Sheffield)
  • Dr Loes Rusch (University of Amsterdam/BCU)
  • Prof Tony Whyton (Birmingham City University)
  • Dr Marline Lisette Wilders (University of Amsterdam/University of Groningen).

The conference forms part of the JPI Heritage Plus-funded CHIME project, a transnational research project that explores the relationship between European music festivals and cultural heritage sites. Visit www.chimeproject.eu for further information. Updates on the conference and information about travel and accommodation will be available on this site over the next few months.

CONFERENCE VENUE: SIENA JAZZ ARCHIVE

sienaIn 1988, the Siena Jazz Foundation founded the National Center for Jazz Studies “Arrigo Polillo” with its Library and Sound Archive. The Center is virtually the only specialized facility for jazz documentation and research in Italy; its serves as a reference point countrywide for students, musicians and scholars for their work. The facility is computer-based and the online catalogues are continuously updated. The Center holds the most important specialized collection in the country; the number of data included in the catalogues and the continous growth of the collections, which include more than 25.000 sound and video carriers, more than 2.000 books and thousands of magazine issues including the only complete collection of the Musica Jazz magazine put the Center on the par with the best Jazz Archives worldwide. The latest years saw important development with internal restructuration of the spaces, and with a general update of available equipment for digitization of audio and images.

Revitalising the (jazz) music festival, at 12 Points, San Sebastian

In panel conversations between musicians, researchers, journalists, organisers and promoters we found and heard about a range of approaches to trying to revitalise the (jazz) festival experience and the jazz scene during the 12 Points Festival discussion days on ‘Jazz Futures 2016’ here in San Sebastian this week. This was felt important for a number of reasons, including that in some countries the big all-star jazz festival is fading, its audience diminishing, while elsewhere, perhaps ironically, perhaps in a connected way, there is a surfeit of festivalisation of culture, in that festival in its ubiquity has become everyday, even banal, and no longer the intense, heightened and exceptional. Here are some of those diversifying approaches, familiar and perhaps not so.

  • 12 Points
    12 Point Jazz Futures discussion, San Sebastian

    Jazz festival or event as immersive experience—music, yes, but also costume, design, actors and dancers, food, theatre and masque, historical reconstruction of scenes from jazz past with a promenading audience

  • Jazz apps, and audience interactivity via mobile digital technology
  • Electronic deconstruction of the live music event in the very next concert that follows, so the audience hears fresh the new music it just heard, where sometimes the remix is better than the original (though, yes, “sometimes it’s shittier”)
  • An emphasis on creative curation rather than simply programming or organisation and presentation of a series of concerts
  • Cross-cultural and cross-arts dialogue. Whether improvised arts (music, dance, animation) working with each other in the moment, or a festival of improvised music that must include literature and vice versa
  • A continuing struggle with the Jazz word: a European jazz festival director says I don’t want to use the term “jazz festival”, it’s off-putting for a new audience, others saying we lose something worth cherishing and celebrating if we reject it (i.e. a century of live and recorded music)
  • The on-going core relevance of jazz and music education: new musicians, new networks and events, new energy, and new audiences
  • The regular inclusion of academic research in the festival programme, an openness to it in the scene more generally.

‘Festivalling’: are jazz festivals utopian?

Jazz Utopia conference logo[Blog by Dr Emma Webster, University of East Anglia, postdoctoral researcher on AHRC-funded The Impact of Festivals project, where this was first posted]


I have just returned from the Rhythm Changes ‘Jazz Utopia’ conference in Birmingham (14-17 April 2016). The majority of the one hundred plus speakers really engaged with the theme of the conference and grappled with jazz’s potential for exploring and achieving utopia from a wide variety of perspectives: historical, musicological, sociological and interdisciplinary.

My paper gave a brief overview of a literature review currently in review with Jazz Research Journal about the impact of jazz festivals; based on the final part of my paper, this blog post will consider briefly the ways in which jazz festivals have been or could be considered to be utopian.

To begin, how jazz festivals have been considered in utopian terms in the literature. In his introduction to a collection of essays on pop festivals, for example, George McKay writes that festival, at its most utopian, can be ‘a pragmatic and fantastic space in which to dream and to try another world into being’ (2015: 5). As another example, in a paper on the Montreal Jazz Festival, Michael Darroch describes a ‘utopian inner city music village’ into which the festival organisers have imported various forms of music to the city, as well as tropes from New Orleans such as trad jazz and second line parades (2003: 133).

Helen Regis and Shana Walton, in work on the New Orleans Jazz Festival, argue that the festival ‘was and is a utopian project’ whilst recognising that, in its practical realities, its utopian aspirations are somewhat problematic. They argue that whilst the jazz festival seeks to transform existing social structures, particularly around race and gender, instead it reinforces them. In addition, whilst making large amounts of money for the organisers, the festival does not necessarily enhance either the economic or social prospects of those who provide the music and entertainment (2008: 428). Instead, as the authors say,

Rather than helping New Orleans avoid poverty and inequality, the city’s role as playground to the world continuously reproduces unequal social structure. Even as it offers opportunities for a national audience to experience our culture, the festive state of the city has muted the voices of those who try to focus attention on urban issues (2008: 432).

As Regis and Walton suggest, the New Orleans Jazz Festival maintains its power because of the fact that its many festival-goers return year after year in search of moments of transcendence; indeed, in a separate paper, Walton reveals how for some participants, the festival has had such an impact that they have even upped sticks and moved across the country to be closer to it (2012).

Photo by Robin Capper, via Flickr CC BY-NA 2.0
Photo by Robin Capper, via Flickr CC BY-NA 2.0

The anticipation of the festival throughout the year means that festivals exist as both a real and an imagined – idealised – event. The ways in which audiences perceive such ‘ideal’ jazz events is highlighted in the work of Karen Burland and Stephanie Pitts on jazz festivals and jazz clubs, in which they conclude that audiences have in mind an ‘ideal’ jazz gig which they aim to replicate when deciding where and when they would decide to go; such ideals relate to instrumentation, the atmosphere and venue, the performers and the other audience members (2012: 537). Work by Gail Brand et al into the performer–audience relationship at a jazz club highlights the importance of the venue to how much audiences enjoy the gig, who in general tend to prefer smaller, more intimate venues, although interestingly their research also highlights that this is not necessarily what is wanted by the musicians who don’t necessarily want such intimacy with the audience (2012: 643).

Finally, Anne Dvinge uses Christopher Small’s concept of ‘musicking’ to show how the Detroit Jazz Festival transforms Detroit once a year via the interactions of the musicians and the people, which reflect the ideas of ‘ought-to-be-relationships in the world’ for its participants (2015: 195) and becomes a time in which ‘joy takes root annually’ in the city (ibid.: 185). Borrowing from Small’s ‘musicking’, then, it could be said that ‘festivalling’ becomes a particular type of activity or process in a particular type of space in which festival-goers’ ideal forms of society are imagined and explored.

When considering whether jazz festivals are or can be utopian, then, the larger question is whether we mean the festival itself or the wider society in which the festival exists. Jazz festivals, by their very nature, are transient, albeit often cyclical, therefore any utopia they offer is rather fleeting. Jazz festivals, can perhaps be utopian for jazz fans in the sense of providing an actual and imagined ideal place dedicated to the enjoyment of jazz; as acts of ‘musicking’ they form part of the pilgrimages and rituals of jazz.

A perfect festival is certainly easier to achieve than a perfect society, perhaps, although whether the social structure, rules and politics of a jazz festival or gig can ever be ‘perfect’ is debatable, especially the larger the event becomes and, perhaps, the more diverse the audience and the more broad the understanding of an ‘ideal’ gig. As the New Orleans Jazz Festival example I gave earlier shows, even a festival with utopian ideals can end up inadvertently recreating the inequalities of the society in which it exists, particularly around issues of race and gender. In this way, perhaps without a perfect society to start with, there can be no perfect festival.

To conclude, then, a jazz festival is most likely not a site of utopia for wider social transformation, or even for a perfect jazz experience, but it has a number of significant impacts which mean that, for a short time, for some, ‘festivalling’ may be a glimpse of a jazz utopia.

Bibliography

Brand, Gail, John Sloboda, Ben Saul, and Martin Hathaway. 2012. ‘The reciprocal relationship between jazz musicians and audiences in live performances’. Psychology of Music 40/5: 634-651

Burland, Karen and Stephanie E. Pitts. 2010. ‘Understanding jazz audiences: listening and learning at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival’. Journal of New Music Research 39/2: 125-134

Darroch, Michael. 2003. ‘New Orleans in Montréal: the cradle of jazz in the city of festivals’. Géocarrefour 78/2: 129-137.

Dvinge, Anne. 2015. ‘Musicking in motor city: Reconfiguring urban space at the Detroit Jazz Festival’. In The Pop Festival, ed George McKay. London: Bloomsbury: 183-197.

McKay, George. 2015. ‘Introduction’. In The Pop Festival, ed George McKay. London: Bloomsbury: 1-12.

Regis, Helen A. and Shana Walton. 2008. ‘Producing the folk at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival’. Journal of American Folklore 121/ 482: 400-440.

Small, Christopher. 1998. Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press.

Walton, Shana. 2012. ‘“I only go to church once a year”: transformation and transcendence in jazz fest narratives’. Southern Journal of Linguistics 36/1: 104-126.

Nice discovery…

20151215_121014In preparing a paper for the Hidden Musicians Conference in Milton Keynes, I came across this original programme from the 1948 Nice Jazz Festival in a family archive.

Nice is widely regarded as the first truly international jazz festival and the inaugural event featured a gathering of renowned US and European musicians, from Louis Armstrong and Rex Stewart to Claude Luter and Humphrey Lyttleton. The 1948 Festival was housed at the Opera in Nice but, in subsequent years, the event began to use the city’s amphitheatre as a main outdoor venue.

 

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Urban Design, Seashells and the Jazz Buff

imgres-2It’s not every day that an international conference starts with the national host welcoming everyone by blowing through different sized seashells and the event manager giving a comedy demonstration of a buff, showing delegates different ways in which a garment – purposely designed for the event – could be worn and used. But this is no ordinary conference. It’s the gathering of Europe Jazz Network, a pan-European group that brings together promoters, festivals, venues and national music agencies to discuss issues, opportunities, and collaborative ideas around jazz and improvised music today.

CPrtbGHWoAAALutOnce the seashells performance and jazz buff demonstration were over, EJN President Ros Rigby welcomed Professor Christopher Dell to the stage to deliver a performance-based keynote speech that described an improvisational approach to urban planning, architecture and design. Interspersing examples of theory and practice with short improvisations on the vibraphone, Dell drew on the work of Henri Lefebvre to argue that cities and spaces should no longer be understood as fixed objects, and instead advocated an improvisation-led approach to architecture and urban design which encourages both a hands-on and reflexive exploration of spaces and materials.

Although not talking specifically about festivals and heritage sites, the talk resonated with the CHIME project in several ways, most notably by encouraging the audience to think about the way in which places are used and re-used and how urban environments are understood as both produced and performative spaces today.  CHIME will add to this discourse about how spaces can be reconfigured, transformed and reimagined over time and will extend the focus of study to landscapes, rural settings, post-industrial sites and other heritage settings.

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CHIME at the European Jazz Conference

banner-EJCEurope Jazz Network’s (EJN) European Jazz Conference kicks off in Budapest on 24 September. The event brings together festivals, venues, promoters and national agencies from across Europe to share good practices and to develop new initiatives and collaborations. The event will encourage debate around pan-European issues that have an impact on the arts and cultural sector and will include sessions on sustainability, professional development and education, as well as networking for seasonal festivals. There will also be a strong research focus, as the EJN builds on the work of its Strength in Numbers study and launches new initiatives around audience development and a history of European jazz.

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