CMS Latin American Initiative

The College Music Society has long been aware of diverse musical expressions from across the world and honored their styles and alluring palettes of tonal color. Over the decades the Society has helped develop awareness of music from around the globe and has encouraged discussion of how all musics can be woven into academic courses and performance experiences. While the wide reach of music from all points on the planet is a key way to respond to diversity mandates – such that students are exposed in a comparative manner to music from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas, and elsewhere in the world – the experiences that students can have with music of particular regions of the world can be deepened by acquaintance with particular populations living within our American communities, even if these populations represent on a small selection of a region's many genres.

Given the remarkable demographic evolution in North America predicted to occur over the next few decades, it is important and timely for The College Music Society to attend to matters of Latin American music, musicians, and (our current and potential) students of Spanish-speaking communities. This effort can be reflected through current CMS initiatives including conference venues – regional, national, and international; College Music Symposium's presentations of scholarly articles, performances, and discussion; book-length publications; webinars; and professional development events.

We are pleased to announce “Pan-Am Connections,” a CMS Latin American Initiative first introduced for discussion by the Board of Directors at the February 2013 meeting in Dallas, Texas. There are manifold aims of this initiative:

1. to develop among members of the Society an awareness of music and musicians of Latin American countries, cultures, and U.S. Latin communities;

2. to build relationships with music professionals working in institutions and on projects that parallel the interests of CMS members, and

3. to consider the musical interests and needs of Latin Americans who enroll as students in music programs and courses at colleges, conservatories, and universities, in K-12 settings, and in various events that emanate from the efforts of music professionals.

Through this initiative, CMS hopes to bring attention to Latin American music and musical education. As dialogue converts to action, this CMS initiative will pave the way for re-defining music, learning, education, and community.

In the past, CMS has enjoyed focus on Latin American music and connections with Latin America through many conference sessions and publications, including, most recently, performance by the award-winning “Mariachi Chula Vista” at the closing session of the CMS 2012 National Conference in San Diego, and the 2013 International Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where tango and other musical genres of Argentina and neighboring countries and cultures were featured on the program.

This initaitive contains several formal program including:

  • a webinar in development on Latin Americans in the professoriate (musically speaking), organized by Larry Kaptain, with other webinars to follow;
  • Included in the St. Louis 2014 conference “Call for Program Participation” focus on Latin American music, musicians, and students;
  • the 2016 CMS National Conference in the U.S. southwest, center of the Tejano “Tex-Mex” culture;
  • the 2017 CMS National Conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico, historical outpost of the Spanish Empire;
  • exploration of holding an International Conference in Havana, Cuba, hotbed of Spanish influences and cultural hybridization that mixes Spanish and African expressive characteristics as manifested in its music, dance, theatre, film, the visual arts, religion, and cuisine. Havana looms large as a “must-see” (and “must hear”) as professionals, students of culture, and travelers. Havana’s old town, Habana Vieja, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its plaza is a central location of various fiestas; several fortresses and museums, as well as an opera house, are high points for tourists. The city throbs with music, from art to traditional to jazz and fusion, and the experiences of colleagues who have visited there lead one to believe that Havana is an international site that will help us to continue the momentum of our “Pan-Am Connections.”

By the close of my presidential term, I hope that we will have established our genuine commitment to the principal aims of the initiative, with full intent to carry them out. With continued enthusiasm from the membership, our CMS Latin American Initiative will bear much fruit, and can be easily continued in the years to come.

Patricia Shehan Campbell
September 2013