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International Symposium in European Ethnomusicology - 27-29 April 2007

'National Ethnomusicologies: The European Perspective' - Interim Report

An international symposium in European ethnomusicology was organised by the School of Music at Cardiff University (27th-29th April, 2007) in association with the Central European Music Research Centre (CEMRC) and the Centre for the Study of Islam in the United Kingdom (CSIUK). Entitled 'National Ethnomusicologies: The European Perspective', the meeting concerned the role of the nation state in developing distinctive ethnomusicological traditions, looking at the ways in which institutional and ideological considerations shaped distinctive readings of the discipline. The symposium also examined the limitations of the nation state, considering the position of intra-national minorities and trans-national groups, the national sometimes being superseded by the multinational in a globalized world.

In this respect, Europe provides an interesting locus for examining the issue, the emergence of new programmes in ethnomusicology counteracting the decline of established schools in the field, the recent expansion of the European Union contributing significantly to the promotion of relevant research at a national level. Attracting 25 scholars from Europe and America, the event was structured around a number of themes that encompassed the diachronic and the synchronic; that embraced the theoretical and the practical, showing the significance of ethnomusicology for critiquing old assumptions and for exploring new ideas about what it is to be European.

In addition to the published programme, the symposium also featured a number of presentations and performances. The event included a special panel devoted to postgraduate students, Alma Bejtullahu (Albania), Nahro Zagros (Iraq) and Carl Morris (United Kingdom) offering relevant papers on Islamic music in diasporic contexts. The meeting involved an opening session by Peter Halligan (United Kingdom) who, as dean of interdisciplinary studies, emphasized the relevance of the symposium for Cardiff University. The meeting also included a closing session where Tina K. Ramnarine emphasized the connection between language and nationalism in the formation of a national discipline; Caroline Bithell recognised the importance of UNESCO for sustaining a national register in the field; and John O'Connell noted the significance of different nationalist traditions for the growth of distinctive national ethnomusicologies.

The event was marked by two musical performances: a concert of Celtic traditional music, directed by Eoghan Neff (Ireland) and one of Persian classical music, directed by Frashad Mohammadi (Iran). In addition to attendees from within Cardiff University, guests included Cinzia Curtis (United Kingdom) and Susan Motherway (Ireland).

The proceedings of the symposium are to be published by Scarecrow Press as part of its Europea Series. For a full report of this event, please refer to the Bulletin of the International Council for Traditional Music, which will be available in October 2007.