This report provides a glimpse of the 2013 CMS International Conference, which took place in the beautiful city of Buenos Aires, Argentina from the 18th to the 24th of June, 2013. This conference built on the successful experience of previous conferences, and provided members with a unique opportunity to present, perform, network, and advance professionally while savoring an incomparable fusion of multi-ethnic sounds, colors, tastes, languages and culture, which are uniquely Argentinean.
The program included scholarly discourse in the form of paper presentations, lecture-recitals, and workshops, the presentation of new music by CMS members, as well as keynote presentations and various pre-organized concerts. With more than 130 participants representing 97 institutions from 12 countries, the conference was abuzz with ceaseless activities and engaging discussions from the Opening to the Closing Ceremony. The attendees’ high degree of interest and involvement in all activities was truly inspiring, and highlighted their desire to participate in a one-of-a-kind intellectual (and international!) dialogue. In a similar vein, the breadth of academic, sub-disciplinary, and international representation was characteristic of our international conferences, a true reflection of the scope of our society, and an indication of its high quality and impact.
The conference hotel (Marriott Plaza Hotel), located in the heart of Buenos Aires, offered easy and safe access to the surrounding cafés, museums, galleries, international restaurants, and a myriad of shops on the pedestrian Calle Florida. Conference venues (other than the hotel) were strategic in terms of proximity to the hotel (such as the Centro Cultural Borges), or to provide a glimpse at alternative musical and cultural milieus in Argentina: the brand new La Usina del Arte, an old power station in La Boca that has been recently converted into a unique cultural and performing arts center; the renown and also newly renovated Teatro Colón, one of the best theaters in the world and is renowned for its exceptional acoustics, where we were privileged to hear a public performance of the “In Crescendo” Guitar Quartet in the main hall followed by a recital in the Salon Dorado by superb students from the Instituto Superior de Arte del Teatro Colón; the intimate Museo de Arte Hispanoamericano, showcasing a select collection of silver works, furniture, ceramics, documents, and religious ornaments from the 16th through 19th centuries; and the architecturally representative Centro Naval, an stunningly ornate building from the "Golden Age of Argentina," and the home for our farewell dinner.
The various keynote sessions provided a wide variety of activities while covering representative repertoires of Argentinean musical culture. Tango music was featured in the wonderful performance-practice demonstration by Sonia Posetti, Damian Bolotin, and Nicolás Enrich. A blend of Folk and Electroacoustic music defined the concert and hands-on instrument-making session held by Alejandro Iglesias and students from the Universidad Tres de Febrero; the performance by the Orchestra of Indigenous Instruments & New Technologies during the festive welcome dinner was truly stunning, as it blended unusual textures, choreography, and staging, to deliver a unique musical experience. The scholarly pursuits of Music Education and Music within Academia were thoroughly fleshed out during the keynote session lead by Ana Lucia Frega, the leading scholar in Latin America on this field; this session inspired a fascinating discussion on the past, the future, of musical pedagogical methodologies in Argentina. We were treated to an emotive lecture-recital led by Georgina Ginastera (daughter of renown Argentinean composer Alberto Ginastera) accompanied by piano performances of acclaimed Argentinean pianist Luis Ascot. For our farewell dinner we had a wonderful surprise performance of a subsection of the Naval Military Band, featuring a musical facet seldom highlighted in international conferences.
Sightseeing and cultural activities provided an opportunity to gain a stronger understanding of the Argentinean landscape and culture. The three-hour guided orientation tour of Buenos Aires served to orient participants by identifying famous landmarks, major neighborhoods, and sites of interest. The countryside visit to the 3,000-acre Estancia Santa Susana offered a glimpse into a side of Argentine life very different from the city. During our time there, we had the opportunity to ride a horse, enjoy an asado lunch (typical argentine barbecue), experience a performance of folk music and dance, and witness demonstrations of skills by equestrian gauchos. The hands-on workshop to build clay ocarinas (the indigenous instruments heard during our welcome dinner) proved to be one of the favorite events, and (thanks to the skilled builders) all ocarinas came out sounding perfectly! The Tango dance lessons at Tango Porteño introduced participants to the basic steps of this sultry (and sexy) dance; later that evening the Tango Porteño show, in the same venue, mesmerized participants with top-rate musicians, fabulous instrumental arrangements, and amazing dancers performing complex feats of grace and athleticism.
Integral to the conference was to facilitate the exchange of ideas with Argentinean scholars and performers, as well as to allow free time to explore at leisure. Much fruitful networking and interaction with local musicians will surely serve as preliminary platforms to generate a more fluid international dialogue; and suitable free time gave participants an opportunity to explore fantastic restaurants, catch up on your rest, or experience the powerfully energetic life that the city.
The positive energy generated by the conference is evident in the post conference survey results. Participants’ comments addressed particular facets of the conference as well as the overall experience: “presentations both of guest lecturers and CMS members were of outstanding quality,” “integration of local culture and conference, while usually excellent, was EXTRAORDINARY this time,” “exchanging ideas relative to art and the profession was literally life-changing!” In particular, all members were highly appreciative of our guides for the enthusiasm with which they embraced this conference and the steadfast and kindhearted support they extended to it.
I am truly thankful to CMS and its members for allowing me to serve in the capacity of Program Chair, and for having the privilege to work alongside Peter Park and the entire CMS staff to make this an unforgettable international conference.
Juan Chattah, Program Chair
2013 CMS International Conference