Category: music

Athens Music Project Symposium April 17


Pylon-40Watt-1979Besides providing a gratuitous opportunity to post this phot of Pylon from 1979 (wow), the Athens Music Project, a Willson Center Research Cluster featuring Franklin faculty, is presenting the community with signifciant cultural dividends:

The Athens Music Project will hold its first symposium April 17 from 4-8 p.m. in the auditorium of the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries at the University of Georgia.

The AMP is a Faculty Research Cluster of the UGA Jane and Harry Willson Center for Humanities and Arts and is co-directed by Susan Thomas, an associate professor of music and women's studies, and Jean Ngoya Kidula, associate professor of music and African studies. The event is co-sponsored by the Willson Center and the Hugh Hodgson School of Music.

The AMP provides a platform for research, creative development and shared expertise in, about and for Athens' diverse musical communities. 


Michael Lachowski, a member of the Athens band Pylon and currently the public relations coordinator at the Georgia Museum of Art, will give a keynote talk on "How Art Turned Into Music: The ‘Athens Music Scene.'" The talk will be followed by a roundtable on "Hearing the Past and Seeing the Future: The 40 Watt" that will feature Lachowski, 40 Watt Club owner Barrie Buck and Velena Vego, the club's talent buyer. Christopher Lawton, director of the Georgia Virtual History Project, will moderate the discussion.

To find out more about other parts on the program, see here. But I highlight the keynote as a point of emphasis: the Athens music scene enjoys a kind of mystique that flows from and into its world renown. But the mystique is difficult to quanitfy so hasn't been to any great extent. So good for Kidula and Thomas for presenting a platform to delve into these mysteries further - may the best parts remain shrouded, but let us enjoy the discussion and perhaps further celebrate this catalyst for the rich pageant that surrounds us.

Image: Pylon plays at the original non-commercial location of the 40 Watt Club (Myers Building, third floor, 171 College Ave.) in 1979.

African American Choral Ensemble: 25 Years


A special concert upcoming:

The University of Georgia African American Choral Ensemble will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a reunion concert April 12 at 7 p.m. in Hodgson Concert Hall. The performance is free and open to the public.


"There is a lot to celebrate at this concert," said Gregory Broughton, the ensemble's director and associate professor of music in the Hugh Hodgson School of Music. "Some outstanding leaders and musicians have come out of this group."

UGA students originally founded the African American Choral Ensemble in 1972 as the Pamoja Singers, named after a Swahili word for "together." Two years later, the program spawned the Pamoja Dance Company, a student organization that celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

Our campus and university has come a long way in terms of building a diverse student body over the last quarter century. There remains a long way to go to open up more opportunities across a broader spectrum of Georgia and American society for people of color, of various religious faiths, of different sexual orientations. But it what we do and who we are as a country, and nowhere is this more telling than our arts traditions, established as well as new. The African American Choral Ensemble is a great tradition at UGA and we are proud to celebrate this wonderful anniversary.

Protect Athens Music Conference 2014



Just before Spring Break, students, academics, nonprofit organizers and Athens-area musicians had an opportunity to listen to a set of discussions at the annual Protect Athens Music (PAM) Conference, presented by the UGA Sports and Entertainment Law Society. Discussions on earning money as a musician in the digital world, obtaining health insurance and health care as a musician, and a survey of the local music landscape made for an interesting afternoon this year. The event showcased the unique presence of artists and academics in Athens who hope to help this town not just be known as a “music town” but as a “music business town.” The conference featured many UGA-related panel members including David Barbe, director of the UGA Music Business Program; David Lowery, of Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker and a UGA music business lecturer; and Jeremy Wheatley, a longtime local drummer, songwriter and academic advisor for the UGA Honors Program.

This year’s conference was organized by Michelle Davis, a UGA alum (ABJ ’05) and former Flagpole music editor now turned University of Georgia law school student. We caught up with her to ask her more about her background, her path to her career choice and what this year’s conference was all about.  Find a link to this year’s conference blog and video of the discussions below.

Q: You organized this conference. Where did your background interest in music and law come from?

A: I've worked in the music industry in various capacities for about 10 years. I am just a huge fan of music—much of that love was instilled in me my by dad who played in rock bands for many years. While in college I interned with radio station 99X in Atlanta, spent a summer with Warner Bros. Records, and interned with publicist Michelle Roche. After college I started my own music PR firm, representing mostly Athens and Atlanta bands. My first full-time job was with Ticket Alternative, where I worked as a marketing coordinator, setting up box offices for venues and promoters. I then moved back to Athens where I served as music editor of Flagpole Magazine for three years before going to law school. That's the short version of my resume, but the main point is that through all these experiences I've always strived to be an advocate for artists. After seeing so many bands' careers cut short by bad contracts and bad management, I felt like I could have a greater impact as an attorney. I'm particularly fascinated by the intersection of law and technology, and my goal is to help artists navigate the ever-evolving digital marketplace.

Q: Why did you get involved in organizing the conference?

A: I was first invited to be a panelist with PAM in its first year. I was the [music] editor of Flagpole Magazine at the time, and I spoke about promotion and publicity. The event itself started as a student project under David Barbe's direction in the Music Business Program, but they joined forces with the law school student group UGA Sports and Entertainment Law Society (SELS). I wrote about PAM's second conference for Flagpole, at which point I already knew I had plans to go to law school. When I started law school in 2012, I knew right away I wanted to be part of SELS, as entertainment law is my passion. I assisted in putting on the event as a 1L, and then I ran for the office of VP of SELS in my second year, allowing me to take the position of chair of PAM. I am a huge supporter of any event/organization that serves to bridge the gap between town and gown. I think it's essential for the music scene to integrate with the University and vice versa, because the two can support each other.

Q: Why is it important to hold a conference on the topic? What is the value of having UGA be a part of the discussion of the Athens music scene?

A: The music industry is increasingly complex, and there is a not a lot of transparency as to how things work. Unfortunately, all too often artists are left out of the conversation entirely when it comes to debates about fair pay, copyright and technology.  I spent an entire semester studying nothing but the music industry as an extern with the Future of Music Coalition in [Washington]  D.C. last fall, and even I still don't understand all the intricacies of this industry. That's a lot of pressure to put on a creator— to expect a musician to know not only his/her craft but the way this incredibly convoluted system works. So, that's why it's important to bring artists together with the experts—lawyers, managers, academics and experienced artists—to discuss the issues that affect artists' livelihood.

Additionally, my goal is that PAM will serve to put a new spotlight on Athens as not only a music town but a music business town. This year we covered three pressing issues: making money online ("Demystifying Digital Revenue Stream"), getting health care coverage, and brainstorming ways to help our local music community grow more sustainable and successful. A cross-community dialog like this helps us share ideas and move things forward. UGA can provide some of the financial backing to make these things happen, as well as access to some of the experts and academics that we rely on for guidance. For students like me who are interested in working in the entertainment industry, events like this are integral to our education. If we want to learn to work in the field, than there is no better place to start than the music scene right in our backyard.


Want to see video footage of this year's conference? Visit


--Jessica Luton


Patel Professorship: Zakir Hussain


Zakir-Hussain- tablaThe 2014 Gordhan L. and Virginia B. "Jinx" Patel Distinguished Visiting Professor in Indian Musical Arts in the Hugh Hodgson School of Music brings what may be the world's best tabla player to campus on April 2:

2nd Thursday to feature UGA Symphony Orchestra


UGASO on stageBecause of spring break, the March 2nd Thursday Concert in the Hugh Hodgson School of Music will be performed on March 6 at 8 p.m. in Hugh Hodgson Concert Hall at the UGA Performing Arts Center. The concert, featuring the UGA Symphony Orchestra performing Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 7 in E major, is not to be missed:

Trained as an organist, Bruckner’s works are noted for their powerful and grand style, using the full scope of the orchestra to evoke the sound of his primary instrument. Thursday’s performance marks the first time the UGASO and conductor Mark Cedel have performed one of Bruckner’s symphonies at UGA. To commemorate the occasion, musicology Professor David Haas will present a special pre-concert lecture on the composer and his seventh symphony at 7:15 in the Performing Arts Center.

The concert will also feature Joseph Haydn’s Oboe Concerto in C major with UGA oboe professor Reid Messich.

Reid Messich joined the Hodgson School faculty in 2010, and holds degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music and Florida State University. He has performed extensively throughout the United States and Japan, often under the direction of such conductors Christoph von Dohnanyi, Christoph Eschenbach, Otto-Werner Mueller, Sir Roger Norrington, Sir Simon Rattle, and Mstislav Rostropovich. He is a current member of the Georgia Woodwind Quintet.

Proceeds from these concert support scholarships in the Hodgson School. Get your tickets here and come out and enjoy some great music.

Image: The UGA Symphony Orchestra from 2011 - old photo but with some of our very favorite student musicians.

The role Classical Music will play in America's future


So this is really what blogs are for - to publicly follow up on a story, a note, an idea, an event. To add context. Here's some.

Related to the prior post on the piano recitals next week in Hodgson School of Music, I saw this interview with Richard Zimdars in Fanfare Magazine from February 2012, on the occasion of the release of his new recording. Let's pick it up wih the final question, in which Dr. Z brings the light:

Q: I am very concerned about the role that classical music will play in America’s future, what with the dwindling of music classes in public schools, and the evident aging of audiences at classical music events. As someone who has enjoyed direct contact with young people for many years, what is your perspective on the future of this art form? What kinds of changes have you witnessed over the years?

A: I share your concern with developing a future audience for classical music in America. Growing up attending the Chicago Symphony’s 10-concert season in Milwaukee was my prime formative classical-music experience, along with my piano and horn lessons. Attendance at those concerts was by no means restricted to the upper classes or elderly in those days, although much German was spoken among the older crowd during intermissions. A Central European ambience was surely in evidence. At home, the music played on our record player was the standard repertoire from Bach to Debussy. This music, and also the sounds of singers like Björling, Milanov, Warren, Albanese, Flagstad, Lotte Lehmann, John Charles Thomas, and Risë Stevens were—fortunately!— the sounds locked into my brain at an early age. Musical memories are involuntary and reflexive. My tastes were formed early by my parents’ choices in recorded music: rock and roll was excluded, but not jazz or American musicals. Alvin and the Chipmunks crept in, too!

The distributors of broadcast and mechanically reproduced music exert tremendous power to form taste, their goal being financial profit. The huge economic organization of music distributors is predatory in the extreme. The vast majority of the distributed product is utterly unimaginative, fostering a worldwide appetite for generic styles directed toward the youth market. This product, marketed to appeal to the concerns of its audience, actually suppresses expression while sending a dumbed-down message of identity to listeners and potential purchasers. The infliction of this narrow musical choice on the public is masked by its seemingly limitless sources of distribution.

How to break the cycle? It cannot be broken, but now and again people do escape from its orbit. I’ve seen this happen often during my academic career. Recently I taught a one-day-a-week one-credit class to about a dozen freshmen at the University of Georgia who were not music majors. I had graduate piano students play Schumann, Chopin, and Liszt for the class. They were entranced by the skills of the young pianists, and peppered them with questions. After one class, a student I’ll call Elberta told me that despite the value that her metropolitan area high school placed on her athletic skills, she had longed to participate in music as well. Shortly thereafter my class was assigned to attend a University of Georgia Symphony Orchestra concert, and I saw Elberta with an athlete friend at intermission. Our orchestra is capable of performing works like the Mahler Fifth and Sixth symphonies, and since Elberta and friend had never been to a live symphony concert, they could not believe how good their fellow university students sounded. They asked, with innocent sincerity, what the purpose of the conductor in front of the orchestra was. This was enough to get us talking for the whole intermission, after which they enthusiastically returned to their seats!

It is never too late for people to expand their interests, and I think live concerts are the best way to do it. The earlier children are exposed to live music of quality, the better. Opportunities to sing or learn an instrument should be available in every U.S. school system, public or private. 

Gladly. There's more at the link

Athens Music Project


Athens-Music-Project directors Kidula and ThomasNice article going around this week on one of the Willson Center Faculty Research Clusters projects focused on the behemoth that is the local musical traditions of Athens, GA:

The Athens Music Project will take into account the city's variety of African-American musical traditions, both secular and religious; its growing jazz scene; bluegrass and other folk music traditions; the Latin American/Latino musical community; new music and conceptual sound art; as well as Athens' historic role in both classical music and musical theater.

The cluster will be designed to take in contributions from a range of sources. Associated projects currently underway include a study of early music education in Athens by Stephanie Tingler, associate professor of music; a project by music graduate student Mary Helen Hoque focusing on George Davis, an African-American bandleader who formed the city's first civic band during Reconstruction; and research on John Vaughan, an early-20th century hymn composer whose Athens publishing house distributed music nationally, by Kevin Kelly, the Hodgson School's music librarian.

"Part of what we're doing is setting up an infrastructure to facilitate other people doing research," Thomas said, "whether that's our students, or whether it's people, both in the university and the community who already are doing that kind of work in a little vacuum so that we can give them a resonating space to share and showcase what they're doing.

There is much to unpack here, though Kidula and Thomas are scholars who have a taste for such heavy lifting, humanities-wise. Ambitious, unwieldy projects can often be difficult to wade into, but the richness of Athens music deserves the attention of our best ethnographers, which it will have in Kidula and Thomas. Congratulations to the Willson Center for inspiring our faculty, paving the way for wider and better understanding of our world.

Image: Co-directors of the Athens Music Project, Jean Kidula, left, and Susan Thomas.  Photo by Jason Thrasher.

The Nature of Music


Ethnomusicology is the study of why, and how, human beings are musical - a definition that positions ethnomusicology among the social sciences, humanities, and biological sciences dedicated to understanding the nature of the human species in all its biological, social, cultural, and artistic diversity.

The Hugh Hodgson Schol of Music welcomes UCLA ethnomusicologist Timothy Rice to campus on Thursday, Oct. 10, where he will present a public lecture at 4 p.m. in room 408 of the school of music on The Nature of Music:

“By asking questions about the nature of music inspired by anthropology and other social sciences, by feminism and other social movements, and by various philosophical traditions, ethnomusicologists have learned much about the nature of music as a human behavior and cultural practice in thousands of particular studies,” said Rice. “In the process, they have created a rich picture of the nature of music and its significance for human life.”

Rice, whose specialty is traditional music of southeastern Europe, will examine how and why human beings are musical in an interdisciplinary presentation.

The lecture is presented by the Hodgson School in affiliation with the Athens Music Project, a Willson Center Faculty Research Cluster. The event is free and open to the public.

Cercle et Carré at GMOA


Kandinsky-Tension-in-Red_0.jpgModernist painting has a very strong pull and appeal, whether or not one is familiar with its history. The forms and images that were created in the early part of the 20th century speak to something elemental within all of us, a natural aesthetic ease accessed by painting, music and literature that is simple yet challenging. It's a dichotomy to which we respond well - and at least one reason that the work of Paul Klee, Erik Satie and James Joyce have enjoyed such staying power. We enjoy the elegance and complexity of the imagery.

To take this discussion to a much higher level than I can do here, the Georgia Museum of Art is presenting a symposium on the modernist artists’ group Cercle et Carré on Oct. 11 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

"The group's 1930 exhibition is widely considered a landmark event in the history of modernism, and many of the participants are well known, but their journal and exhibition have been little studied before now," Boland said. "There are also a number of lesser known participants long past due for ‘rediscovery,' something the exhibition and the mini-symposium hope to encourage."

Well known members of Cercle et Carré also included Wassily Kandinsky, Le Corbusier, Fernand Léger, Piet Mondrian, Kurt Schwitters and Sophie Taueber-Arp.

The symposium features Franklin College faculty members Jed Rasula (department of English), Nell Andrew and Janice Simon (school of art), plus Catherine Dossin of Purdue University on a panel moderated by curator Lynn Boland of the Georgia Museum. Should be a great event. Free and open to the public

Image: Wassily Kandinsky's "Tension in Red" will be part of the exhibition "Cercle et Carré and the International Spirit of Abstract Art" on display Oct. 12 through Jan. 5 at the Georgia Museum of Art. © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris (Kandinsky)

Music student wins top international competition


Jean_Martin-Williams-and-Lauren-HuntBig congratulations to the Hugh Hodgson School of Music and DMA student Lauren Hunt:

University of Georgia doctor of musical arts student Lauren Hunt took first prize Sept. 1 in the International Horn Competition of America's university division. Hunt, who began her studies this fall in the Hugh Hodgson School of Music, competed against 53 other hornists for the title.

The International Horn Competition of America was founded in 1975 to promote higher performance standards for domestic hornists. In time, its mission expanded to include international artists who compete every other year in the event's professional and university divisions. This year's competition, held on campus at Kentucky's University of Louisville, included performers from 21 states and 10 countries.

"Everyone hopes to win at competitions like this, but my main goal was to make it past the first round," Hunt said. "Once I had accomplished that, I simply made it a point to have fun and enjoy playing my instrument. I think that's a big reason why I performed as well as I did."

When it comes to the top music schools in the country, awards like this really tell the story. That Lauren is new to UGA and chose to bring her talents here for her doctoral education speaks volumnes about our faculty. Congratulations to our brass faculty members, and especially Jean Martin-Williams and Richard Deane. 

Image: Horn professor Dr. Jean Martin-Williams with Lauren Hunt.