Plenary Conference, June 2019, Maynooth

The seventeenth annual plenary conference of the Society for Musicology in Ireland took place from 28 to 30 June 2019 and was hosted by the Department of Music, Maynooth University. Its title, Musicology Today, reflects the broad geographical, methodological, and intellectual scope of this event. The conference programme featured just under 80 papers on music and music-cultural practices in America, Asia, Australia, and Europe. Delegates travelled from fifteen countries (including Ireland) in order to present papers on music-historical, music-theoretical, music-pedagogical, performative, or compositional-aesthetic questions and to discuss music’s intersections with anthropology, gender, health, literature, media, the moving image, philosophy, theatre, and socio-politics. Beside a large number of parallel sessions, the conference featured three plenary events: a public organ recital performed by Professor Emeritus Gerard Gillen (Maynooth University); a keynote lecture delivered by Professor Michael Beckerman (New York University); and a discussion of musicology in academia which was inspired by two plenary speakers: Dr Natasha Loges (Royal College of Music, London) and Professor Harry White (University College Dublin). Additionally, the opening reception saw the acknowledgement of SMI’s two new corresponding and honorary members, Dr Patrick Devine (formerly Maynooth University) and Professor Julian Horton (Durham University), as well as the launch of five books recently published by staff and alumni of the Maynooth University Music Department.

See the Conference Programme and the Programme booklet. Some photos from the conference may be seen here.

One of the delegates, Emily Shyr (PhD candidate, Duke University, USA), shared some of her impressions of the conference:

Moving on to the academic aspect of the conference weekend, it is incredibly difficult to single out just one memorable presentation—the range of research topics, creativity in methodological approach, and depth of papers were all so inspiring and thought-provoking. However, a shared highlight had by all was Professor Beckerman’s keynote speech on Dvořák’s secret programs. Not only was his interpretation of the revised ending of the Cello Concerto and his programmatic reading of the Ninth Symphony extremely convincing, but his use of different media: music, poetry, and film, made his insights all the more compelling. […] Lastly, the most warming aspect of the conference was not the diversity nor the enriching depth of the presentations, but the friendships formed over the course of the weekend. I and others enjoyed many delightful conversations, and it was particularly heartening to see and be part of exchanges between newcomers and established scholars. […] Of course, these few paragraphs cannot encompass all the support, friendliness, and positivity experienced at Maynooth over the course of the conference, but I hope they can offer a glimpse into the world that is musicology in Ireland. It is an incredibly encouraging environment that I feel lucky to have been a part of.

The Society is grateful to the following institutions and businesses for supporting this event: Brepols Publishing; Contemporary Music Centre, Dublin; Czech Academy of Sciences, Institute of Art History; Dún Laoghaire Organ Concerts; Four Courts Press; Galway Cathedral Recitals; Kildare County Council; Maynooth University Research Development Office; Maynooth University German Department, School of Modern Languages; Maynooth University Graduate Studies Office; Maynooth University Music Department; Maynooth University Arts and Humanities Institute.

Conference Committee: Dr Anja Bunzel (Chair, Czech Academy of Sciences), Dr Patrick Devine (Independent Scholar), Dr Darina McCarthy (Maynooth University), Dr John O'Flynn (Dublin City University), Dr Adrian Scahill (Maynooth University).