The Choir -- Artistic, Pedagogical and Scholarly Perspectives

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Sibelius Academy
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An interdisciplinary symposium organized by Sibelius Academy, The Doctoral School of Music, Theatre and Dance, and Finnish Musicological Society, 20th- 22nd of May 2010. Helsinki, Finland.

Call for Papers and Presentations

The Choir is an international symposium whose focus is on the particular meanings and practices embedded in the choir throughout history, as reflected in various forms of art and strands of research. The symposium is open to both scholarly presentations and demonstrations grounded in artistic, as well as pedagogical practice.

Taken generally, "choir" signifies a collective, more or less organized form of musical performance. In Western history, however, "choir" has always been something more – an expressive form common to religion and all performing arts: theatre, music theatre, opera, ballet, vocal and instrumental music, and performance art. The choir, then, can be regarded as a conceptual prism, through which to look at Western history as a whole, in all its social and institutional manifestations. The choir, taken this broadly, has never been situated in any one cultural domain but could rather be regarded as a significant cultural phenomenon in the history of various art forms, social communities and institutions, and ultimately the surrounding society as a whole.

The main themes addressed in the symposium are the following:

• Meanings and functions allotted to the choir in different phases of history
• Multi-faceted ontology of "the choir" as situated between art, on the one hand, and society and religion on the other
• Politics of the choir
• What hypothesis – or conclusions – are there to be drawn from the particularly flexible nature of the choir, its fascinating and often simultaneous permanence and change?
• What is the position and meaning of the choir in today's art forms?
• Choir as a cultural domain
• Choir as a musical medium
• Choirs on/as stage
• Re-inventing choir?
• Choir and creative practice
• Choir and professionals

Proposal Information

Proposal submissions should consist of a 300-word abstract addressing the focus areas of the symposium. A diversity of presentation formats is welcome. These could include paper presentation, lecture demonstration, lecture recital, panel and roundtable discussions. Standard presentations are generally 20 minutes in length, followed by 10 minutes reserved for discussion and questions. If the substance of the presentation requires more time in the program, this should be mentioned in the proposal. The specific technical equipment needed for the presentation should be mentioned in the proposal. Selected presentations will be published in the Proceedings of the symposium.

Poster Sessions

The symposium offers a poster session opportunity to share current research and/or practice with colleagues and others interested in the choir. Those interested in submitting a poster, should list the following in their proposal: the wall space required for the poster, technical equipment for sound demos, a stand for handouts, etc.

Submission Information

The deadline for submissions is October 15, 2009. Proposals may be submitted by mail or email. Please indicate your institutional affiliation and email address with your submission. Indicate clearly whether your submission is to be considered for paper/presentation or poster session. Send submissions to:

Markus Mantere
Sibelius Academy, Building P
Kutomotie 9, 00380 Helsinki

Submissions by email should be sent to:

For inquiries, contact:

Prof. Anne Sivuoja-Gunaratnam
Tel: +358 40 7104287

Dr. Markus Mantere
Tel: +358 40 7104339

The symposium also has a website where you can find additional information concerning the symposium:

Program Committee: Prof. Esa Kirkkopelto (The Theatre Academy), Dr. Markus Mantere (Doctoral School of Music, Theatre and Dance), Prof Anne Sivuoja-Gunaratnam (Sibelius Academy), Dr Juha Torvinen (University of Helsinki), Prof. Matti Hyökki (Sibelius Academy)

Invited Keynotes

Dr. Ryan Minor, SUNY Stony Brook, U.S.A.

Ryan Minor's research and teaching focus primarily on the musical and political culture of nineteenth-century Germany, with special emphasis on opera, choral music, and music's participation in the public sphere; his interests also encompass analysis and hermeneutics, opera and dramaturgy, and nationalism. He is currently finishing a book exploring the musical and political resonance of the chorus in nineteenth-century Germany. His seminars thus far have focused on music and art-religion; Wagner's Ring cycle; Brahms; and new approaches to analyzing 19th-century music.

Upcoming projects include: the intersections of Wagnerism and mass culture; the growth of musical institutions in the nineteenth century; Mozart operas; and the role of the mob and theories of vitalism in the music of fin-de-siècle Europe.

Dr. David Wiles, University of London, Royal Holloway

David Wiles began his career as a Shakespearean, but is best known as a specialist in Greek theatre, both as a historical phenomenon and as a living force that still speaks to our contemporary world. In its political engagement and concern with ultimate realities, its physicality as much as its language, Greek drama, in Wiles's work, comes out as uniquely powerful in its ability to engage with the present.

Prof. Wiles has published widely on the history of theatre and on issues related to that art form. His recent monographs, all for Cambridge University Press, include Tragedy in Athens : Performance Space and Theatrical Meaning (1997), Greek Theatre Performance : an Introduction (2000), A Short History of Western Performance Space (2003) and Mask and Performance in Greek tragedy : from ancient festival to modern experimentation (2007). Dr Wiles's last three books have been shortlisted for prizes : the Criticos, the STR, the Runciman.

Much of Prof. Wiles's work addresses the various ways in which theatre interfaces with society, and his current project is an investigation of how theatre practice relates to citizenship. The concept of the citizen was shaped in Greece and Rome, and later generations have repeatedly understood tensions between rights and obligations, between individual and collective identity, in terms generated by that era. The main focus of this project is the French Enlightenment. His forthcoming book will address basic questions about how theatre shapes identities, not through ideas generated by playwrights, but through the social practice of theatregoing.